Here in the U.S., Winter is when we snuggle up with hot chocolate or coffee under a blanket and wait for Spring’s arrival. When you get in from the cold, no doubt, the last thing on your mind is taking a cold shower! But, the question begs: Can hot water actually be “bad” for you?

Hot, Warm, Cool, or Bone-Chilling?

Let’s be clear on what a hot shower is. First, a bone-chilling shower is using nothing but cold water — so cold, in fact, that it could classify as freezing. A cool shower is a nice combination of warm and cold, though leaning more on the cold side. You can imagine it being like the ocean’s cool waves in the summer’s heat. Whereas a warm shower is, again, a mixture of cold and hot, though noticeably on the hot side. Similar to lukewarm or room-temperature water. Yet, a hot shower is where the water is so scolding hot that you feel like Hansel and Gretel being cooked in the witch’s cauldron.

In this article, we’re specifically addressing what a scolding hot shower can do to your body. Does it benefit or harm you?

Damage Skin Cells

Extremely hot water can stress your skin. How? Your skin’s outermost layer, the epidermis, is layers of thousands of cells. Each layer of cells is designed to act as a barrier against all sorts of unwanted substances. However, consistently scolding these layers can after some time cause them to behave poorly. They may, thus, fail in their vital assignment. Rashes, blisters, and sometimes even worse can ensue as a result.

Asian woman taking a hot shower, she looks relaxed, only her face and shoulders are visible

Aggravate Acne 

A common misconception is that hot water can cure acne. However, this is not only false but also deceptive! While, yes, hot water does kill bacteria and is good for cleaning, washing hands, or preparing foods, it does not have the same effect on your face. Repeatedly washing your face with hot water will not prevent breakouts. On the contrary, it can actually worsen acne! Why?

Note how the National Institue of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases defines this condition, “acne is a disorder that affects the skin’s oil glands and hair follicles.” Why do we even get acne? “The small holes in your skin, [also called] pores, connect to oil glands under the skin. These glands make an oily substance called sebum. The pores connect to the glands by a canal called a follicle.”

What do the follicles do? “Inside the follicles, oil carries dead skin cells to the surface of the skin. A thin hair also grows through the follicle and out to the skin.” Most noteworthy, though, “sometimes, the hair, sebum, and skin cells clump together into a plug. The bacteria in the plug cause swelling. Then when the plug starts to break down, a pimple grows.”

Ultimately, imagine what repeatedly pouting scolding hot water over these pimples and breakouts, will do to the follicles and the pores!

Dry Out Skin

Water, in general, washes away your skin’s protective oils. Adding a product will wash and then do more, depending on what product you use the result may vary. However, using hot water not only washes away needed oils. It also causes the body to react negatively, secreting more oils! The result? You’ll probably end up washing more and more, drying out your skin more and more.

How do you know if you’re caught in this cyclical trap? Does your skin feel tight, itchy, and dry after a hot shower? If yes, then, get help from your dermatologist or just switch to cold water and incorporate a moisturizer.

Damage Hair Cuticles

In particular, when it comes to your hair, scolding hot showers are the worst. Why? Warm water is known for opening up pores, cuticles, and fibers. So, a scolding hot rinse will open, and, then damage your hair’s sensitive cuticles. Similar to your skin, your hair will begin drying out.

Definitely Warm

After reviewing these 4 aspects of skincare where hot water is detrimental, we can agree that warm water is the way to go. Maybe you prefer a cold shower. In that case, don’t let anyone stop you. But, if you need some heat to your ice, go for a warm shower. It will balance your needs with those of your skin. In fact, if you prefer to use natural ingredients, check out our article on ancient remedies.



The information provided herein has been reviewed for accuracy, but cannot be guaranteed to be free of infallalacy. The information herein does not qualify as a diagnosis nor does it substitute a consultation with a licensed physician.

© 2019 ALLIED MEDICAL AND DIAGNOSTIC SERVICES LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Published: 20190119
Revised: 20190911

Post Author: Dr. Mirza

With over 15 years of experiences as a licensed physician, Dr. Muhammad Mirza is very knowledgeable in cosmetics. Having specialized in neurology, our doctor knows exactly how to contour cosmetic products to your needs perfectly. Dr. Mirza takes his knowledge and shares it on his website, in his offices, and across various other platforms.