Science Questions

Do cold feet mean more colds?

Sun, 17th May 2009

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Emil Sorenson, Denmark asked:

Hi guys! My parents have been telling me I should wear socks all the time or I’ll get ill. So my question is does having moderately cold feet really increase your risk of catching a cold or the flu?


Chris Smith -   My own take on this is no, because I have chronically cold feet.  But they say “cold feet and cold hands - warm heart” so I am all right.  But there’s no real evidence connecting going out in the cold with catching a cold.  It’s one of those urban legends that gets trotted out, “don’t go out with wet hair because you might catch a cold.”

Picture of Swedish original non-skid socks from Nowali.The only real evidence in this favour was there was some studies done in Scandinavia in people who were dong very severe exercise and they found that in those individuals, exposed to very cold extremes as well, taking some vitamin C did help to ward off colds, but on the whole getting cold doesn’t increase your risk.  It’s actually physically being exposed to the pathogen that increases your risk.

The only sort of exception to that is if you get very very cold and you get so cold that you get damage to your mucus membranes, your linings of your nose in your mouth, then of course you might make yourself, if you get cracked skin or break down of the mucus membranes more vulnerable to say a bacterial infection coming in on top.  So you have to be careful for that but there’s not actually any evidence connecting getting cold or washing your hair and catching more pneumonias or colds or viruses.  So you are probably okay Emil.


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