(Image courtesy of Jessica Nguyen)
Fountain Valley High School

Hot vs. cold showers

We all take showers, or at least some of us do while some should. There is nothing better than taking a searing shower after a late night or a chilling blast to clean yourself; but, what are the benefits of taking hot versus cold showers?

Hot showers

If you are having trouble relaxing or sleeping, hot showers can help you by activating the parasympathetic nervous system and relieving sore muscles, tension and knots. The heat also increases blood circulation that can help to ease pain and promote healing.

The hot water additionally opens the pores in your skin, cleansing your skin by unclogging the trapped dirt and oil. The steam opens your airways as well and can reduce your fever, cold, cough or runny nose. If it is a cold day, hot showers can warm you up.

Especially important for high school students, hot showers lower stress levels by stimulating the release of oxytocin in the brain and reducing stress and anxiety.

However, hot showers can dry your skin and hair. It damages your skin’s outer layer, the epidermis, particularly the keratin cells; your skin becomes dry as these cells are unable to keep moisture in your skin.

If you have skin conditions, such as eczema, hot showers can worsen them. The searing water can make your skin itch and increases your blood pressure.

Cold showers 

Cold showers, compared to hot ones, actually wake you up by increasing oxygen intake, heart rate and alertness. It also increases circulation because to maintain your body temperature, the blood must circulate faster to stay warm; not to mention, the freezing water can give you healthier skin and hair from tightened blood flow.

Cold water stimulates relaxation and repair in your muscles especially after a tough workout; it is like a full-body ice pack and can minimize inflammation as well. If you are looking to lose weight, gelid conditions like this can cause your body to burn fat cells, like white fat, to stay warm.

Icy showers have the opposite effect of hot showers and actually close your pores, locking moisture in your skin and preventing dirt from clogging them.

Studies have shown that cold showers can help with depression by increasing impulses from the peripheral nerve in the brain, which acts as an antidepressant.

On the other hand, cold showers do have negative effects although the list is short. They are unable to warm up and can increase the time it takes to warm up. If you’re sick, the cold is a bad idea for your immune system.

It is clear that cold showers have more benefits but are less relaxing than hot showers. Even if you can’t fully switch to cold ones, you can try alternating the temperature every time you take a shower or rinsing off with cold water at the end of your hot one.