Going out or going to bed with wet hair does not increase the risk of getting sick. However, hot and humid environments, such as lying in bed with wet hair, can lead to bacterial or fungal infections on the scalp or face.

Hair performs the following functions:

– mechanical protection of the skin against the external environment
– increased sensory function of the skin
– helps regulate body temperature

Although wet hair does not directly cause illness, the presence of water does cause health problems.
The moisture from the hair also moistens the pillow. Going to bed with damp hair can increase the risk of developing a fungal or yeast infection on the scalp because yeasts have a better chance of growing in warm or moist areas of the body. Below are the effects of wet hair, the risks of sleeping with wet hair, precautions, and tips to avoid sleeping with wet hair.

Effects of wet hair

Myths passed down from generation to generation may suggest that going to bed or going out with wet hair can make a person sick.

Can wet hair cause a cold?

Research suggests that just having wet hair doesn’t make people sick.
Adults usually have two or three colds a year. Colds are caused by viruses, and the only way to develop a cold is to come into contact with a cold-causing virus. There are no studies that can establish a direct correlation between the common cold and having wet hair. Only exposure to a cold-causing virus can cause a cold.

Can going out with wet hair in the cold cause a cold?

Spending more time indoors or outdoors or not going outside with wet hair has not been shown to actually make a difference in the risk of developing a cold. However, a 2016 study found that drops in temperature and humidity for several consecutive days can increase the risk of rhinovirus infections, a cause of the common cold, in affected individuals.

No research suggests that the risk of developing a cold is correlated with having wet hair.

6 reasons not to sleep with wet hair

There are reasons why people may want to dry their hair before going to bed. Wet hair can cause the following problems:

1 Hair stretch

wet hair stretches about 30% of its original length without being damaged. However, irreversible changes occur when the hair stretches 30-70%. Sleeping on the hair can cause it to stretch beyond tolerable lengths.

2 Feeling cold

A 2015 study showed that people’s heads lost more heat when exposed to cool temperatures. Heat loss was significantly greater at 10 degrees Celsius (°C) than at 15°C or 20°C. This means that wet hair can lead to more uncomfortable sleep.

3 Mushroom growth

Researchers in 2021 discovered a species of Malassezia fungus in hair follicles. This fungus can lead to skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis. Having wet hair for long periods of time, such as overnight, can increase the risk of developing these conditions.

4 films

A 2019 study suggested that winter temperatures exacerbate dandruff due to cold, damp conditions. The same study suggested that a balance between bacteria and fungi may also play a role in this condition. Damp hair can lead to heat loss, which means it can make dandruff worse.

5. Hair breakage

According to a 2017 study, genetic and hormonal changes are important factors in hair loss. However, the environment and excessive grooming can also play a role, such as going out with wet hair. Wet hair while sleeping can also damage the follicles and lead to hair breakage.

6. Skin conditions

Hair follicles located under the skin and clogged with oil or sebum can cause acne. As wet hair harbors bacteria, this can also impact the growth of bacteria in the pores. Wet hair for long periods of time, such as overnight, can increase the risk of developing these conditions.

Precautions to take

Steps can be taken to avoid going to bed with wet hair. This avoids the problems associated with leaving the hair wet.
The simplest measure is to dry the hair as much as possible before going to bed. You can also make sure your bedroom temperature is comfortable. Experts recommend an optimum temperature of 19.4°C.

Taking a shower or bath one to two hours before bed can also give hair a chance to dry naturally.

To avoid damaging hair, try:

– to revitalize their hair each time they are washed
– Gently comb wet hair with a wide-toothed comb
– gently wrap their hair in a towel to absorb the water rather than rubbing it with a towel
– let the hair air dry when possible
– avoid pulling the hair back by banding it tight, as loose hairstyles are better for the hair.

What to do if you sleep with wet hair

To reduce the risk of damage or problems related to wet hair while sleeping, you can try the following techniques.

wash your hair less

The number of times people wash their hair in a week depends on their preferences. A 2015 study suggests that a person can wash their hair every day without causing a problem. Frequent and regular cleaning with a well-formulated shampoo will not damage the hair. However, drying long hair with heat-based tools can lead to damaged hair. If people can wash their hair every other day or space out the washes, it can reduce the time spent on a damp pillow.

Lengthen the time between washing and sleeping

A person can try starting their bedtime routine earlier, including washing their hair earlier. It might help her have drier hair at bedtime. This can help reduce the risk of them being damp and creating an environment for fungus to grow.


Sleeping and going out with wet hair cannot give a person a cold. However, it can have some downsides, including broken hair and increased yeast and fungus overgrowth on the hair. People may decide to change their routine to have more time to dry their hair.
People may wish to avoid practices that could damage their hair, including the use of tight bands, heat-based styling products, and a narrow-toothed comb.
They can also look for the best products available to take care of their hair by consulting a doctor or dermatologist.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.