Does going outside with wet hair make colds more likely? This old wives’ tale is one of the most perpetuated concepts of how colds infiltrate communities and families. In fact, colds are not perpetuated by lower temperatures but they do make illness more likely due to weaker immune systems. Lower temperature and dry air reduce the nasal defence system which normally protects us from viruses and bacteria. To make matters worse, dry air may help keep the cold’s viruses alive and well. In this way the viruses can survive longer once launched in an area which increases our chances of infection.

You may think what harm does this perception do beyond misinforming people. In contrast, it matters because it changes people’s minds. For instance, this may affect how much outdoor exercise one does in winter. On this last point, running or doing any other form of sports activity in winter actually increases the rate at which we burn calories.

So why are we more likely to get sick in the winter time? One part of the answer is that we spend more time together in the winter time. Moreover, we are much more likely to be in an enclosed space at this time, unlike in warmer weather where we try to avoid closed spaces with others, especially in those high-temperature summer months.

Humidity also plays an important role. Certain types of heaters can reduce humidity making us more susceptible to catching a cold. A last point to consider is that if we are indoors more of the time and there is less sunshine even when we are outside, our intake of vitamin D also makes our immune system that little bit weaker

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