VERIFY: Will wet hair in the cold make you sick?
Rain, sleet and chilly temperatures, North Texas got a triple weather whammy on Friday.
No doubt your mom or granny warned that if you take your wet hair out in weather like this, you can get sick. Is there any truth to this old wives' tale?
Our VERIFY team dug into it.
It's an old wives' tale, older even than old Hollywood films.
Can your luxurious wet hair make you sick, if you take it outside in the cold? Stupid question? Well, even one of our smartest people thought about it when she walked outside with wet hair this morning.
"It was a rare occurrence," meteorologist Colleen Coyle noted. "I gotta say I paused for a second and thought about it. I think it's a valid question many people may have even if it comes with a simple answer."
To get that simple answer, Parkland Hospital emergency room physician Gilberto Salazar agreed to be our expert.
"Wet hair is certainly one of the big myths I have to dispel," Salazar said.
Would you believe it's a question he gets every week when the weather turns cold?
"It almost becomes a daily education that I have to do," he told us.
As part of that education, he tells patients that the overwhelming majority of coughs and colds are caused by viruses. Diseases we innocently spread from one person to the other.
Even so, researchers put the old wives' tale to a test. In a study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, two groups of people were exposed to viruses that cause the common cold. One group was exposed to the germs in a chilly 41-degree room; the other group, in a balmy 86°C room. The result? Both groups caught colds at about the same rate.
So, here's the answer you've been waiting for. Does wet hair, on a cold day, have ANY impact on making you sick?
"No," Dr. Salazar affirms, "your risk of acquiring these infections is the same as if you were staying inside, coat on, and your hair dry. It's exactly the same."
But as the weather turns cold, and we spend more time inside in close contact with other people, experts recommend washing your hands often, covering your mouth when you cough and getting a flu shot as a precaution.
Certainly something to think about.
Whether you're one of the country's smartest meteorologists -- and whether you choose to walk around with wet hair or not.
Colleen Coyle, Meteorologist, WFAA Channel 8
Dr. Gilberto Salazar, Associate Chief of Emergency Services, Parkland Health & Hospital System
New England Journal of Medicine