Hot or cold showers are better for your health?

There is no better sensation for some than a hot shower. However, is a cold shower more beneficial to your health?

Hot or cold showers are better for your health? - Photo by Anthony Cain/Getty Images
Hot or cold showers are better for your health? – Photo by Anthony Cain/Getty Images

Cold and hot showers each have their own set of benefits, and which one you should take depends on those benefits.

3 Health Advantages of Taking Cold Showers

While a quick cold shower may not feel as relaxing as a hot shower, it may have more health benefits.

To begin, according to Tara Allen, RN, certified personal trainer, and nutrition coach, cold showers can increase alertness and even improve mood.

To be more specific, you may wish to use cold showers to:

1. Recuperate after a workout.

Ice baths and cold showers have grown in popularity in the fitness industry as a way to aid in post-workout recovery.

According to a 2018 meta-analysis of post-exercise recovery techniques, exposure to cold water — such as cold water immersion or cryotherapy — was one of the most effective ways to reduce inflammation and muscle fatigue.

Indeed, when compared to recovery without cold water immersion, participants’ perceptions of pain and fatigue were reduced up to 96 hours after exercise.

2. Relieve itching

If you have sensitive skin, taking a cold shower can help alleviate itching due to cold water’s cooling and anti-inflammatory properties.

“It helps alleviate the itch sensation, whether through a cold shower, ice packs, or a cool bath,” explains Carrie Kovarik, MD, an Associate Professor of Dermatology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

3. Immune system enhancer

According to researchers, cold water induces a low-level stress response in the immune system, which aids in the development of resilience. Thus, when your body is attacked by an infection, it may respond more effectively.

In a 2016 study, participants were instructed to begin their shower with warm water but finish with 30 to 90 seconds of cold water. Those who used cold water at the end of their shower reported a 29 percent reduction in sick day absences from work when compared to those who simply showered as usual.

However, if you are already ill, Allen advises against taking a cold shower until you feel better; it will not be able to heal any illness or infection you may have.

3 Health Advantages of Taking a Hot Shower

While many of us prefer hot showers, they are a no-no from a dermatological standpoint because they remove natural oils from the skin more quickly, according to Kovarik.

“From a skin health standpoint, the disadvantages of hot showers outweigh the benefits,” Kovarik says. “Hot showers can cause your skin to dry out, especially if you have a chronic condition like eczema,” Kovarik explains. “In addition, hot showers can aggravate itching by causing cells in the skin to release histamine — a substance that causes the itch.”

Apart from skin problems, hot showers can be beneficial in certain situations, such as when you want to:

1. Muscles must be relaxed.

Hot showers can aid in muscle relaxation and recovery following a workout.

According to a 2014 study, immersing legs in hot water for 45 minutes prior to exercise reduced muscle damage and post-workout soreness.

2. Aid in the relief of respiratory symptoms

Taking a hot shower can assist in clearing a stuffy nose. That’s because the steam generated by hot showers will loosen the phlegm in your throat and nose, according to the Lung Health Institute.

However, this steam can be harmful to those who suffer from chronic lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, or severe asthma.

3. Improve the quality of your sleep.

Taking a hot bath or shower for about 20 minutes can help improve sleep in the hours before bed, according to research.

For instance, a 2019 study discovered that showering or bathing at 104 to 109 degrees Fahrenheit — approximately 90 minutes before bed — helped the body’s circadian rhythm naturally prepare for sleep, allowing you to drift off faster and improving the quality of sleep as well.

Warm showers are the most effective way to stay cool in the heat.

While it may seem logical to cool off with a cold shower in the heat, this is actually the opposite due to the way your skin and circulatory system respond to heat.

For instance, if you take a cold shower, the temperature of your skin will drop and you will feel cooler. However, as a result, blood flow to the skin will decrease and your body will produce less heat.

“We feel cooler temporarily, but because we are not radiating as much heat through our skin, it is all retained inside, and our core temperature remains elevated,” Kovarik explains.

Kovarik recommends taking a warm shower instead, which will assist you in cooling down more gradually. The most effective method is to take a warm shower of around 91.4°F.

Takeaway from an insider

Both cold and hot showers have their advantages, and in general, the best option is likely somewhere in the middle.

Kovarik recommends a warm shower — between 95 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit — as the best option. Additionally, the AAD recommends a daily five-to ten-minute shower.


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