We’ve gotten through the first day of fall and our first cold front of the year. It’s right about now that most parents start to grow concerned with an old wives' tale. You know the one, “You’ll catch a cold if you go outside with wet hair” or some version of the idea. Parents often use it as an excuse to “take a break” from swimming until warmer weather returns, leaving their children more susceptible to drowning than to the annual cold and flu season viruses. We’re consulting Dr. Ashley Saucier, MD to get to the bottom of being wet in the winter and if it affects our immune systems or likelihood of catching a cold.
“No, it does not. Viruses and allergies are the most common causes of runny noses and congestion. Less commonly, bacterial infections.”
“Likely a temporal coincidence. Meaning, around the same time the weather starts getting cooler, we start to see an increase in fall/winter illnesses. In the summer, there is less overall illness in children because of time of year (no influenza and RSV), but also because children are not in school. In places outside of the deep south, the start of school comes shortly before cooler temperatures arrive. Schools lead to the spread of germs and viruses. So it makes sense that people would associate cold weather/being cold with getting sick. If there is an actual known origin of this old wives’ tale, I would love to know!”
“Hand washing, distancing, masking, repeat. In the ER, we are hoping that universal masking will decrease the overall incidence of our biggest winter viruses this year.”
“Yes, that is the idea. Keep in mind that COVID-19 symptoms in children can be pretty nonspecific- nasal congestion, cough, vomiting, or diarrhea. Fever is only present in about half of the kids presenting with COVID-19. If you are in doubt, err on the side of caution and have your child tested.”
"Absolutely! Healthy bodies go hand in hand with improved immune systems! Good nutrition, exercise, and good hygiene."
Thank you Dr. Ashley for setting the record straight! It’s safe to say being wet in cold weather won’t make us sick and in fact, staying active during the colder months can help boost our immune systems! Don't use this outdated myth to take a break from swimming this winter. Taking time out of the pool can result in the deterioration and total loss of hard earned swimming skills, leaving young swimmers more susceptible to drowning. The most important steps to keep yourself, your family, and others healthy this winter is to stay active, mask up, and practice good hand hygiene and social distancing! And for our swimmers, stay healthy and water safe by staying in the pool this winter!
Dr. Ashley Saucier, MD is a double board certified physician in Pediatrics and Pediatric Emergency Medicine and mom to two young boys. She started a community on Facebook for parents to stay informed with the most recent information in pediatric healthcare called Pediatric Emergency Mom. If you’re a parent who ever has questions about your child’s healthcare you should definitely give her a follow!