Are you one of those who likes to have a hot, steaming shower in the morning? While hot water showers have their own therapeutic effects, did you know that a cold shower can also do a lot of good to you?
From calming itchy skin to enhancing your blood circulation, cold showers have many health benefits. But which one is better? We give you the complete picture about cold and hot showers.
1. How Do Cold Showers Help?
Cold showers have multiple benefits. Unless you are unwell, or have been advised not to have them by a doctor, cold showers are largely beneficial.  Let’s look at some of them:
A. Relaxes Muscles And Improves Circulation
After an intense workout, a cold shower helps the muscles to relax. This prevents soreness and improves the circulation of blood to the body parts that were worked upon. They are also known to reduce inflammation and numb pain.
B. Protects Your Skin And Hair
When you shower with cold water, it does not strip your skin and hair of their natural oils. Cold water closes pores, which tightens the skin. It is also gentler on your hair and prevents hair fall.
C. Makes You More Alert And Energetic
In the morning, the cold spray of the shower hitting your body shocks you into being fully awake. This shock increases your heart rate and oxygen intake, which makes you alert and energises you further.
D. Potentially Aids Weight Loss
There are some fat cells in the body, especially around the neck and shoulder area, which generate heat by burning fat. Your cells especially do this when your body is exposed to cold stimuli, like cold water. This can help with weight loss.
E. Increasing Circulation
Since cold showers make the blood flow faster through your body to maintain the ideal body temperature, they are beneficial in reducing inflammation and can potentially prevent cardiovascular disease.
F. Relieves Itchy Skin
If you have a skin condition like eczema that causes you to itch, having a cold shower can help reduce the itchy sensation that makes you want to scratch.
2. Benefits Of Hot Showers
If you find you are unable to relax after a stressful day, a hot shower can help. Here are some of its benefits:
A. Improved Muscle And Joint Health
When you take a hot shower, it relaxes the nerves and muscles; which makes you feel relaxed all over. The hot water can also improve blood circulation that can reduce stiffness in the joints like the ankles, knees and shoulders.
B. Relief From Respiratory Symptoms
An ancient natural remedy for cold and cough is exposing the nose to steam. When you stand under a hot shower, the steam and heat from the water loosens the phlegm, opens the airways and clears your nasal passage.
C. Reduces Blemishes
The steam and heat from the hot shower opens clogged pores. Post this, you can scrub the oil and dirt out of the skin which reduces blemishes and blackheads.
D. Improved Sleep
Hot showers help to release the tension in the body and relax muscles. This induces a feeling of tiredness, which helps you sleep better. All you need to do is make sure the water is not too hot.
3. How To Take Shower According To Dermatologists
It is best to shower once a day; and twice during the hotter months. Since long showers lead to dry skin and hair, restrict your shower to five minutes or less, especially if you have a skin condition. Be mindful of the products you use -- avoid harsh soaps and cleansers, and use moisturising ones.
For a quick shower, you can focus more on your underarms, groin and feet. Sometimes, just rinsing your arms and legs is enough. It is best to shower with lukewarm water if you are not comfortable with hot or cold water.
Start at the top -- wash your hair and apply the conditioner, then wash the rest of your body. If you have acne, rinse the conditioner off before you wash your body. 
4. Which One Is The Best For Your Health - Hot Or Cold Shower?
Both hot and cold showers have their own benefits. Ideally, shower with lukewarm water, followed by the application of a moisturiser on your body while it is still damp. While hot showers can relax the muscles and clear the nasal passage, cold showers can relieve itchy skin. 
Depending on the weather and any health condition you might have, you can opt for one or the other. Definitely avoid a cold shower in winter and if you have a fever or are nursing a cold. Also, if you just don’t like cold showers, ensure the water is lukewarm at the very least.
5. When To Take Hot Or Cold Showers?
Cold showers are best taken after an intense workout, soon after you wake up, and even as soon as you return from work to get the grime and dirt off you.
In summer, a shower with lukewarm or cold water can help you feel less sticky in humid weather.
Hot showers work if you take them an hour or two before you sleep and when you are unwell. If you are having a massage done, a hot shower is recommended so that the oils are absorbed into the skin.
6. Potential Risks
There are risks involved even while you shower. If you wash your hair with cold water and step out in the sun without drying them, you are likely to get a headache. Or, if you have high BP, a hot shower could raise it further.
Disadvantages Of Hot Showers
- Hot showers can dry out your skin. The keratin cells present on the top layer of your skin gets damaged when it comes in contact with extreme hot water. Thus, moisture is not locked in your skin leading to dryness.
- Hot showers can also aggravate chronic skin conditions like eczema. This is due to the excess drying of skin that occurs with very hot water. It can also make your skin itch even if you don’t have a skin condition.
- Hot showers are not advisable if you have high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease. If the water is too hot, these conditions can get aggravated.
- If the water is too hot, and you shampoo your hair, it can dry the hair out and strip your scalp of its natural oils, leaving it frizzy. The same applies to the skin, where very hot water can strip the skin of its natural oils making it dry and itchy.
Disadvantages Of Cold Showers
Cold showers can make you feel worse if you are unwell as it can have an adverse effect on your immune system. If you already have a cold, cough or fever, you will feel colder and your body will take longer to warm up.
So whether you opt for a cold shower or hot, don’t shower for too long as it dries your skin. Avoid a hot shower if you have a heart condition. Be mindful of the products you use when you shower. While both have their advantages and disadvantages, strike a happy medium for best results.
In A Nutshell
Reduces skin damage from pollution, strengthens skin’s natural barrier and improves cell reproduction.
Relax muscles and joint pains
Boosts your immune system
Clears the nasal passage
Closes open pores and tightens the skin
Reduces inflammation and puffiness
Reduces hair fall
Helps you sleep better
Relaxes sore muscles after a workout
Opens the pores leading to clean skin
Relieves itchy skin
Relieves headaches and has calming effects
May help with weight loss
Reduces tiredness and fatigue
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