Can You Get Sick From Going Outside With Wet Hair?

As a kid, my mother always warned me about the dangers of going outside with wet hair. There was always that belief that wet hair in the cold would cause me to catch a cold or sometimes something as extreme as pneumonia. 

Now that I’m an adult, I always think twice about going out into the cold with wet tresses. I even make sure I dry my hair before going to sleep. Now, does going outside with wet hair make you sick, or is this simply an old wives tale my mother told? 

Read on to find out.

Can You Catch a Cold From Wet Hair?

I’ll never tell my mother this, but you can’t catch pneumonia or get sick simply by going outside with a wet mane. The culprit of colds or flues are microorganisms like viruses. This is what gets you sick. 

However, there is some logic to this old warning my mother told: cold air temperatures are better living environments for viruses. The lack of sun during those colder months can also lead to a weakened immune system. 

So, it’s not the wet hair in the cold that’s making you sick. It’s that people are more likely to congregate indoors to get away from the freezing temperatures. When this happens, infections are transmitted more easily from one person to the next.

What About Sleeping With Wet Hair? 

We’ve all gone to sleep with wet hair at least once or twice. You probably never thought twice about doing so; however, some risks come with sleeping with wet hair.

The number one reason to dry your mane before bed is to avoid a wet hair fungal infection. Fungi thrive in warm, moist environments. When you fall asleep with a wet mane, you’re creating this exact environment. This can lead to bacterial growth. 

Some examples of wet hair fungal infections include: 

  • Aspergillosis. This infection is dangerous to individuals with a respiratory condition or a weak immune system. It’s caused by mold found on pillows which fester in dampness. This dampness can be caused by damp hair.
  • Malassezia Folliculitis. This is an acne-like condition caused by a yeast infection of the hair follicle. It’s very itchy and made worse by sweat or water. Leaving untreated can lead to dandruff or even worse – scalp dermatitis. 
  • Scalp Ringworm. This is exactly what it sounds like. A ring-like rash on your scalp. This is a highly contagious infection caused by bacteria. When left untreated it can lead to bald spots.

Now, let me reiterate that it’s not sleeping with wet tresses that’s going to cause this infection on your scalp. If you’ve been exposed to a fungus or bacteria, sleeping with damp locks will only make it worse since you’re creating a livable environment for the fungi to grow in. 

So, to be safe – allow your hair to air dry completely before going to bed or blow dry it using a quality hair dryer.

Protecting Your Locks At Night 

Taking care of your mane is simple. Don’t ever go to sleep with wet locks unless absolutely necessary. You can also further protect your scalp by sleeping on a pillowcase that doesn’t retain moisture like one made of silk. 

Does Going Outside With Wet Hair Make You Sick? 

Now that you know the answer to this question, you can step foot out of your home confident you’re not going to get a cold. And, when it comes to sleeping with wet hair, we suggest playing it safe and drying your mane before bed. 

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