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Cold Vs. Hot Shower: Which Is More Beneficial?

Have you ever wondered whether to bathe in a hot or cold shower? If you have, then here’s what you need to know about their benefits

Tenzin Chodon
Written by: Tenzin ChodonUpdated at: May 24, 2023 03:00 IST
Cold Vs. Hot Shower: Which Is More Beneficial?

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Summer is here and there’s nothing more delightful than a cold shower. It helps cool you off, relaxes you down, and helps you find some respite from an exhausting hot day. But many still prefer having a warm bath after battling scorching heat. For many, the choice between a cold or a hot shower comes down to habit. However, for those of you who are keen on knowing which is more beneficial and suitable for you, here’s what our expert, Dr Altaf Patel, Director - General Medicine, Jaslok Hospital & Research Center, Mumbai, has to say.

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Benefits Of Cold Shower

Both cold and hot showers provide several health benefits. Some of the pros of cold shower include:

Helps reduce inflammation and muscle soreness

According to Dr Patel, cold water helps reduce muscle inflammation and soreness after an intense workout. It is believed that cold water causes the blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow to the area and therefore lowering the risk of swelling and inflammation. 

Improves blood circulation

Taking a cold shower can improve circulation. “Cold water is said to cause blood vessels on the surface of the skin to constrict. This reduces blood flow to the skin's surface and causes the blood vessels in the deeper parts of the body to dilate, hence improving blood circulation,” the doctor added. 

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Prevents itchy skin and improves hair quality

While hot showers are said to open pores, cold showers help retain the natural oils in the skin and hair. That said, given that cold showers keep the lipid barriers intact, it can soothe dry, itchy, and irritated skin, while also promoting hair hydration. 

Benefits Of Hot Shower

Here are some health benefits of bathing under a hot shower:

Reduces cold and cough symptoms

If you sleep with your air conditioner on, then you're likely to be at risk of cold symptoms, especially congestion, according to Dr Patel. Hot showers can help reduce these symptoms and provide relief from respiratory problems. It is believed that hot showers open airways, loosen up the phlegm and also clear out nasal passages.

Boosts muscle relaxation

A hot bath or a shower can help reduce muscle fatigue and soreness. It can relieve stiffness in your body and boost relaxation. 

Relieves stress

Hot showers can alleviate anxiety and stress. Dr Patel said, “Research suggests the heat prompts the brain to release oxytocin, a happy hormone, which in turn, reduces stress.”

Cons Of Cold Vs Hot Shower

Taking a cold shower may not be a good option, if you're already cold and finding it difficult to warm up. Not to mention, it could make you even colder and increase your chances of illness or an infection. 

Hot showers can dry out and irritate your skin as the hot water can cause damage to the keratin cells that are located on the outermost layer of our skin. They can also make certain skin conditions worse. Higher temperatures can also dry out the skin, leading to or worsening conditions like eczema. In addition, hot showers can also increase blood pressure. That said, for those with hypertension or other cardiovascular diseases, taking a hot shower may be avoided. 

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As long as you’re bathing and maintaining your overall hygiene, cold or hot showers shouldn’t matter. However, it is best to weigh the advantages and disadvantages to reap maximum benefits. In case, you’re already cold or suffering from respiratory issues, do not indulge in cold showers, instead resort to warm showers. If you’re someone who is experiencing high blood pressure or has a sensitive skin, bathe in cold showers.