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Fact or Fiction: The Truth About Five Winter Wives’ Tales

A woman dries her young daughter's hair

As a full-time working mom, I am usually in a rush all the time, especially in the mornings. So it’s not uncommon for me to wash my hair and run out of the house while it’s still wet — even in the cold winter months. It’s a very defiant act considering that my mother scolded me my whole life for this (and still does). I can hear her voice right now, “You’re going to catch a cold if you go outside with your hair wet. And when you do, don’t come whining to me that you’re sick. I tried to warn you.”

Over the years, I have tried to explain to her that wet hair doesn’t make you sick, but of course, she refuses to believe me. Most recently, I was getting ready to walk out the house with a sopping head of wet hair when my husband commented that I was going to get sick. I couldn’t believe it. Him too? These old wives’ tales get around.

Instead of trying to explain to him that wet hair won’t give you a cold (he’s another one that won’t listen to reason), I think it’s time to separate fact from fiction, once and for all.


Here are five popular old wives’ tales that my mother swears by and the truth behind them:

  1. You’ll get a cold from going outside with wet hair. This one is false. Colds are caused by viruses, not by skipping the blow dryer. Studies have shown that the virus that causes the common cold can survive better in cold weather than it can in warm, which contributes to people getting sick more often during the winter. Note to self: while you won’t get sick from wet hair, it’s probably still a good idea to dry it before stepping outside.
  2. The flu shot will give you the flu. Another myth! While the flu vaccine is made from components of the flu, those components are either inactivated or made using only a single gene (as opposed to the full virus). These components help your body make antibodies that can fight the flu if you are exposed. While the flu shot will not give you the flu, the vaccine may trigger an immune response, causing mild symptoms, such as achy muscles or a low-grade fever.
  3. Chicken soup will cure your cold. There’s truth to this one. While chicken soup won’t cure your cold, it can make you feel better. A bowl of chicken noodle soup can help you stay hydrated when you’re sick and helps relieve congestion as well as thin mucus so you can cough it up more easily. The steam from the soup also helps with dryness and irritation in your nose.
  4. Feed a cold, starve a fever. Not true! First off, you should never starve yourself. Second, there’s no need to eat more or less if you have a cold or flu. Your body needs energy and nutrients to get better, so you should eat (when your stomach can handle it) and be sure to stay hydrated.
  5. You lose most of your body heat through your head. This one is false. While it’s a good idea to wear a warm hat when it’s cold, you don’t lose more body heat through your head. You’ll lose body heat from any part of your body that is exposed to the cold.

The Truth Will Set You Free

Turns out, my mom doesn’t always know best when it comes to cold and flu. While I can’t convince her of this, I’m glad I know the facts and can break the cycle of circulating bad information.

What’s an old wives’ tale you grew up hearing?

Protect Yourself with a Flu Shot

Now that you know that the flu vaccine won’t give you the flu, be sure to schedule your shot. Many Independence Blue Cross health plans include coverage for seasonal flu shots. To check to see if your plan covers the flu vaccine, check out this Flu Vaccine Coverage Chart or call customer service at the number of the back of your member ID card for coverage information.


Veronica Serrano

Mother. Wife. TV junkie. Shopaholic. That’s me in a nutshell – outside of work. As a copywriter at IBX, I enjoy learning about the health and wellness topics that I write about and hope to incorporate more healthy habits into my daily life to give me the energy to keep up with my baby girl.