Cold Therapy

Can you get sick from being wet and cold? 

You’ve probably heard that going outside with wet hair is how you catch a cold. Or you’ve heard one of the plenty of other old wives’ tales and misconceptions about how getting cold and wet will make you get sick. 

So what’s the truth about getting cold and getting sick?

We’ll answer your top questions and help you maintain your cold therapy routine throughout cold and flu season. 

Can you get sick from being wet and cold? 

You won’t get a cold or flu-like illness from being cold. This is a common misconception. 

In fact, research suggests that exposure to cold water can actually boost your immune system. A 2016 study in the Netherlands found that people who took cold showers called out sick from work 29% less than people who didn’t take cold showers. 

However, it’s important to understand the potential risks of cold water exposure. Prolonged exposure to cold could cause hypothermia or frostbite. Certain medical conditions could also put you at risk of injury from the cold. Always consult with a doctor before starting a cold therapy routine. 

Can you take an ice bath while you’re sick? 

Whether or not you’ll want to skip your cold plunge when sick depends on your symptoms and the severity of your illness. 

For minor illnesses, taking an ice bath might be a welcome respite. Ice baths can reduce inflammation and muscle soreness, which could ease some of the aches and pains that come with being sick. 

They also give you a boost of feel-good chemicals and energy.

If you have a fever, though, it’s probably best to skip the ice bath until your body temperature returns to normal. 

Does an ice bath help a fever?  

While it may seem counterintuitive, a cold shower, plunge or ice bath probably isn’t a good idea when you have a fever. It will cool your body down temporarily, but it also activates a natural re-warming effect, which can leave your core body temperature higher than it was before your plunge. 

If you have a fever, it’s best to follow your doctor’s advice for managing or lowering your fever before returning to your cold therapy routine. 

Should you take an ice bath when it’s cold out?

You can absolutely continue your cold therapy routine in cold weather.

You may want to adapt your pre- or post-ice bath routine to make sure you’re safely and effectively rewarming after your ice bath. Staying outside in cold weather can lead to hypothermia, and being wet can increase the risk.

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