Hot Water Bath Or Cold Water Bath?

The choice between hot water bath or cold water bath can make or break your health. The choice between these two is subjective. The choice needs to be made considering various points such as age, body constitution, season, the age-old practice, habit, disease condition etc. Here is a description about how to make that choice.

What does Ayurveda say?
As a general rule, Ayurveda advises to use hot water for the body and cold water bath for head. Ayurveda opines that having hot water head bath is bad for eyes and hair.

Based on Body type

If you are of Pitta body type, then it is better to use cold water for bath rather than hot water.
If you are of Kapha or Vata body type, then it is better to use hot water rather than cold water.

Based on disease

For patients with Pitta diseases such as liver disorders, indigestion, burning sensation etc, cold water bath is good.
For patients with kapha disorders such respiratory diseases, allergies, cough, cold, etc  and for Vata disease such as joint pains, foot pain, arthritis, etc, hot water bath is preferable.
For patients of epilepsy, it is better to avoid both hot and cold water bath. Luke warm water is good for them for bathing.

Based on age

For young children and for people of old age, hot water is good.
For youngsters cold water is good.
For students, who wish to dedicate more time for studies, with limited sleeping hours and increased alertness, cold water bath early in the morning is beneficial, provided they do not have any health complaints.

Season

Hot water during winter and cold water during summer is good.

Time in the day

If in the morning, cold water is fine, but if you take bath at night, after a tiresome day, nothing is as refreshing as a hot water bath. The evening time is dominated by Vata, hence hot water is beneficial.

Habits

If you exercise regularly, then hot water is preferable.
If you are habituated with daily oil massage (which indeed is a very good habit), then taking bath after half an hour of the oil massage is really good.
A few of the practitioners advise to take alternative hot and cold water baths, which is very fine.
Irrespective of the above rules, or any other rules that exists, if you are accustomed for hot or cold water, over a period of time, then it is the natural choice of your body and that is good for you.

A quick tip:
For good skin health, add a few leaves of neem, a little sandal wood to the water and leave it for a while and take bath.

After workout

Say, you have done Yoga / workout / Gym / outdoor games. You come home and want to take bath. How do you decide between hot water and cold water for bathing? What are the criteria to consider to decide on bath after workout? Does the choice vary, if it is morning or evening? Does the choice vary if it is Yoga / Gym / Outdoor games?

Exercise and Tridosha

Exercise involves movement of different parts of the body. Movement is always related with Vata, hence any type of exercise, Yoga or outdoor game will predominantly increases Vata. Cold is a quality of Vata Dosha.

But some exercises / Yoga increase body heat and sweating. Remember heat and sweat are associated with Pitta, because hotness is associated with Pitta.

When does cold water bath makes sense? 

In your workout / Yoga or any physical activity, if you sweat too much, then it implies Pitta is more, then take cold water bath or luke warm water bath makes sense.

If you are naturally a Pitta dominant person, (redness of palms and feet, sweat more normally, very sensitive to hotness) then it makes sense to take cold water bath.
If you naturally hate hot water bath for some reason, then cold water bath is good for you.

During summer.

When does hot water bath makes sense?
If you have done any physical activity for a very long time, then definitely Vata will be increased more, then it makes sense to take luke warm to hot water bath.

If you have developed pain during your workout, then it makes sense to take hot water bath.
If you are of Kapha body type (stout, do not sweat much etc) or of Vata body type (lean, with prominent blood vessels in hand and feet etc), then hot water bath makes sense.
During winter and rainy seasons.

36 thoughts on “Hot Water Bath Or Cold Water Bath?”

  1. Doctor, is it possible to explain why early morning bath for students is reccomended that too with cold water.. time of vata and kapha and cold water.. can aggravate them or is it due to thier increase in healthy way will lead to more alertness ? please explain.

    Reply
    • Dear Dr Nimi,
      The students, (10 – 18 year old) often suffer from laziness and lack of interest in studies. They tend to sleep more, even during day time.
      One of the main reasons for this lethargy is lack of stimulation to the body in general and brain in particular. Cold water bath in the morning will help stimulate them and will keep them alert through out the day, thereby leading to better concentration.

      I have recommended cold water bath for many students with lethargy and lack of concentration and have found that it helps them.
      However, it does not hold good for students who are already accustomed to hot water bath, who have respiratory problems, etc

      Hope my point of view is clear. Thanks.

      Reply
  2. what is the procedure to bath with cold. I have been bathing since 5 month with cold water and i first put water on my legs for some time then take water in mouth then pore water on my head and then on my sholder and trunk. Is it a right procedure. It has been told by my friend. My age 23.

    Reply
    • Since a cold water bath stimulates Kapha it will also really increase Pitta and chill Vata, for Pitta I recommend a body temperature bath/shower so it doesn’t stimulate either way with too much heat or too cold. Having had an out of balance Vata dosha for years, I know that I craved hot hot water bath or shower because I was always cold, but the hot water dehydrates the body and in turn increases Vata, so I only recommend it if the person applies oil to their body first. Cool water for the head is much better than hot, but really cold for an out of balance Pitta person will increase the stimulation and heat will rush to the head increasing Pitta in this area. Thank you Dr Hebbar for sharing so much wisdom!

      Reply
    • Since it is a coastal city, cold water is preferred, ‘if’ you do not have any problem with cold water bath. During extreme winters, hot water bath is fine.

      Reply
    • Thanks for pointing out.
      After massage, only hot water is preferred. Due to following reasons –
      1. Massage is usually done to balance out Vata. Hot water helps to relax the body and to calm Vata. So, the purpose of hot water bath and oil massage falls on the same line.
      2. Hot water helps to get rid of oil, pretty easily.

      Reply
        • Sure. it is just very fine. In fact, when you are tired, hot water is better than cold water.
          Because, hotness balances the Vata, which has increased due to tiredness / excess work.
          That is why you feel rejuvenated.

          Reply
  3. In my opinion the body is compatible with all things natural. Hence, normal, natural temperature of the water for the entire body, be it head or the body, would be cold or normal. Never hot.
    Physical benefits of this is that it also improves circulation.
    From the spiritual aspect, it creates on Will, one becomes disciplined.
    Water is natures complex chemical. It washes away all dirt. One religions use water as a sign of baptism.
    Water is the source of life.
    Namaste!!

    Reply
  4. I take an oil masage every morning and after that yoga and pranayama. I don’t take a bath afterwards, the oil has been absorbed by the body while doing yoga. Is it wrong not to take a bath after massage?

    Thank you for your really good articles.

    Reply
  5. .addendum!……..I take a hot bath in the morning before yoga, finsihing it with lukewarm water. Is that OK? I am pitta vata.
    Namaste
    Michelle

    Reply
  6. Can we bath with hot water after massage in summers.Wouldn’t it be “Kaal Viruddha’.Please explain.Or it is fine after having used any cooling oil ?

    Reply
    • Bathing in lukewarm water is fine even in summer. The oil itself will protect the skin.
      During summer, using a coconut oil based herbal oil such as Eladi Keratailam (aka Eladi coconut oil) is still better.

      Reply
      • I am a college student of age 21 . I have been using hot waters in winter since my childhood . But recently this season I have switched to cold water , but am not having any problems . Will I continue with cold water ? Moreover I have a feeling that bathing with water that is equal to surrounding temperature is beneficial , though I am not sure of that fact . Please help .

        Reply
  7. Dear Dr,

    I have a basic question, do we need to pour / take water first leg to head Or from Head to leg has to be taken. Is there any preferable routine to do so.

    Reply
    • I do not have classical text reference about the order of washing body parts. But I think bathing begins from head.

      Reply
  8. Dear doctor,
    i am doing trainings. in my training, i suggested my students parents that it is better shower in cold water early in the morining. But there is any problems for such suggestion.

    Reply
    • No problem at all. If someone is having cold cough etc, only they should not have cold water bath. Otherwise, it is good for everyone else.

      Reply
  9. Doc. Im a student I have classes at 5am in morning n then 4pm in eve …..I only get time to take bath in day between 12 to 4 or at night after 8…is it ok to bath at this time
    Especially in summers of rajasthan (above 45° temp) …..can u suggest something

    Reply
    • Hi, in your case, it is fine to take bath with cold water bath, at the time of your convenience.

      Reply
  10. Is any thing wrong in taking bath with hot water and then cold water because I read it in a book that it is very useful for your blood circulation ,so give some suggestion?

    Reply
    • I have also seen such advice.
      For head, it is better to use cold water / lukewarm water.
      For the body (other than head), such altering bathing can be done. There should not be too much temperature difference between the hot and cold waters.

      Reply
  11. Sir, in this article u have mentioned for Kapha and Vata, should use hot water,…… And u also mentioned that early in the morning use of cold water for students… But because of Kapha predominant in the early mrng…… If suggestion of cold water in the early mrng is good?

    Reply
    • Hi, in students, who are healthy, and do not have any Kapha disorder, having cold water bath will help them to maintain Kapha in good condition. This helps in memory and concentration improvement.

      Reply
  12. Hi,

    What would be the appropriate choice for sama-vata/pitta/kapha conditions? I read that cold water pushes heat to the organs of the body, so I am guessing that atleast for sama-pitta, cold water might be useful (even in winters)?

    Reply
    • In case of facial paralysis, eye, oral, ear disorders, diarrhea, bloating, running nose, indigestion, soon after food, bathing is contra indicated.

      Reply

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