Hot Water Vs Cold Water For Bathing

People prefer to have hot water bath. Nothing wrong in it because it surely helps to take blemishes accumulated in the hair root and hence to release the excess of sweating and dust particles adhered to the skin.

Hot water for hair wash?

But if the same hot water is used for head bathing it will harm the hair roots and even the essential oleaginous/sebaceous glands get irritated and the hairs are not nourished properly. Instead the hair roots become baseless/root less and the essential nutrients of the hair root are also not supplied.

This results in more and more hair loss and gradually thinning of the scalp hair is also observed. Meanwhile few will develop premature grey hairs or baldness in due course of time, due to this.
Read related: How To Make Ayurvedic Herbal Bath Powder At Home?

In women though such chances are there, due to the thick hair of the scalp, as the water reaches to the base/root of the scalp, it is cooled down and hence its immediate effect is not found. But surely in prolonged period this may harm in women also. The incident will be more among the people who use shower to head bath with hot water.

Ayurveda explains

Reference: Ashtanga Hrudaya Sutrasthana 2nd chapter
Hot water bath over the body is good. But the same on scalp leads to loss of strength of hairs and eyes.
Acharya Vagbhata further adds that not only the loss of strength to the scalp but also total body strength is also ruined and the visual acuity is also lost/declined.

So room temperature water is preferred in head bath (for body bathing warm water is recommended)  and  in emergency mere slightly warmed (lukewarm can be used, that too in Vata and Kapha body type individuals. Great thinking by noble Acharyas!

Washing Hair With Hot Water Is Damaging?

Hot Water Bath Or Cold Water

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.

Ayurvedic Opinion

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.

Use of Hot water for bath: Ashtanga Hrudayam, Sutrasthana, 2nd chapter, 17th Verse:
उष्णाम्बुनाधःकायस्य परिषेको बलावहः ।
तेनैव तूत्तमाङ्गस्य बलहृत्केशचक्षुषाम् ॥ १७ ॥
uṣṇāmbunādhaḥkāyasya pariṣeko balāvahaḥ |
tenaiva tūttamāṅgasya balahṛtkeśacakṣuṣām || 17 ||

Pouring warm water below the neck bestows strength, but the same over the head, results in loss of strength of Kesha (hair) and Chakshu (eyes).

अतिशीतं हि शीते च श्लेष्ममारुतकोपनम् ||२०३||
अत्युष्णमुष्णकाले च पित्तशोणितकोपनम् |

atiśītaṃ hi śīte ca śleṣmamārutakopanam ||203||
atyuṣṇamuṣṇakāle ca pittaśoṇitakopanam |- Kaiyadeva Nighantu Vihara Varga, 203

During extreme winter, taking cold water bath vitiates kapha and Vata Dosha because both these Doshas have coldness quality. It can cause or worsen respiratory problems, cold, cough, asthma etc.
During summer, taking hot water bath vitiates Pitta and blood tissues because hotness is a quality of Pitta Dosha and it is directly related to blood tissue. It can lead to bleeding disorders, dizziness, digestion issues etc.

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.


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.


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.
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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.

Benefits of bathing

As per Ashtanga Hrudayam, Sutrasthana 2nd chapter, 16th verse, benefits of Snana (Bathing) are –
स्नानं दीपनमायुष्यं वृष्यमूर्जाबलप्रदम् ।
कण्डूमल श्रमस्वेद तन्द्रातृड्दाह पाप्मजित् ॥ १६ ॥
snānaṃ dīpanamāyuṣyaṃ vṛṣyamūrjābalapradam |
kaṇḍūmala śramasveda tandrātṛḍdāha pāpmajit || 16 ||

Deepana – improves digestion. Bathing helps to kindle the digestive power.
Ayushyam – prolongs life. We are seeing in the coronavirus times how much personal hygiene is important. It surely keeps the germs away and prolongs life.
Vrishyam – acts as aphrodisiac. Cleaner body is more attractive.
Urja – increases enthusiasm. Fresh body begets fresh mind
Balapradam – improves strength.
It helps to get rid of
Kandu – dirt,
Mala – waste products,
Srama – tiredness,
Sweda – sweat,
Tandra – lethargy,
Trit – excessive thirst,
Daha – burning sensation,
Papma – ill feeling.


स्नानमर्दित नेत्रास्य कर्णरोगातिसारिषु ।
आध्मान पीनसाजीर्णि  भुक्तवत्सु च गर्हितम् ॥ १८ ॥

snānamardita netrāsya karṇarogātisāriṣu |
ādhmāna pīnasājīrṇi  bhuktavatsu ca garhitam || 18 ||

Bath is contra- indicated in those suffering from
Arditha – facial paralysis,
Netra, Asya, Karna roga – diseases of the eyes, mouth and ears, 
Atisara – diarrhoea, 
Adhmana – flatulence,
Pinasa – rhinitis,
Ajeerna – indigestion and
Bhuktavat – who has just taken food.

Bath soon after meals

Ayurveda recommends bathing in the morning, preferably on empty stomach. Purify your body, then purify your mind with worshipping God and doing meditation and only then take nutritious food. This is the recommended order of healthy routine.
Bathing soon after food causes indigestion, bloating, and delay in natural downward movement of food from intestines to stomach. It alters the blood circulation to stomach and intestines, temporarily. In simpler terms, soon after food, the Agni or digestive fire is much needed in stomach to kick start the digestion process. If someone takes bath soon after food, it would cause weakening of digestive fire.

Effect on Tridosha

How bathing water (hot and cold) effects in dosha?
In general,
Lukewarm water balances Vata and Kapha Dosha, so, it is good for Vata and Kapha body type people.
Cold water balances Pitta dosha, so it is good for high Pitta persons.

Generally, for all people, lukewarm water baths are recommended for the whole body.

Ashtanga Sangraha book explains – hot water to below neck region, and cold water to head and eyes.
Hot water on the head causes depletion in the strength of hair and eyes. However, in extreme cold weather, lukewarm water on the head is recommended.
In high Pitta disorders, cold water bath is advised.

For students, seeking less sleep, for lethargic persons, with body heaviness, cold water bath acts as stimulant.
Though lukewarm water is recommended for all, in summer and autumn seasons, where Pitta naturally can go up, cold water bath is recommended.

5 comments on “Hot Water Vs Cold Water For Bathing

  • Sophie

    22/02/2017 - 9:36 pm

    Is this advice appropriate to cold weather climates?

    Reply to comment
  • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

    04/03/2017 - 5:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing your valuable experience. Hope it encourages many others to follow this healthy habit. 🙂

    Reply to comment
  • Priyanka Raju

    12/07/2017 - 12:14 am

    Hello sir.

    I stay in UK now.and due to cold climate i am getting severe dandruff in my hair and also hair fall. Please suggest some ayurvedic medicine or shampoo for this. I try to use Luke warm water on my hair during hair wash.

    Reply to comment
  • Prema

    30/03/2021 - 12:46 pm

    Hello Sir,
    I live in San Francisco, where it is always cold. I am 72 years old. My scalp is dry and itchy.Is it ok to use warm water to wash my hair? I always apply oil to my head before washing my hair.

    Reply to comment

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