Can You Catch a Common Cold by Going Outside Without a Jacket When It's Cold?

Your parent always told you to wash your hands after you use the bathroom and to wear a jacket when it's cold so you don't catch a cold. But—sorry to those parents out there—once and for all: Being cold is not—by itself—going to make you get a cold.

The misconception about catching a cold from going jacketless may stem from the fact that colds do tend to circulate during chilly seasons, in part because people spend more time indoors and in close quarters—making it easier for illnesses to spread—than they do during warmer months.

Colds strike when viruses make their way into your mouth, nose, or eyes, usually, after you've been in close proximity to someone who's infected.

What Is a Cold

The common cold—in medical parlance a non-influenza-related upper respiratory infection—is common no matter where in the world you happen to be. There are more than 200 viruses that can be responsible for the common cold—the most likely culprit of those viruses being the easily-mutatable rhinovirus strain.

Symptoms vary between individuals but can include:

  • Sneezing and congestion
  • Coughing and scratchy throat
  • Muscle aches and joint pain
  • Watery eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lessened sense of smell or taste

In general, the best treatment to get over your cold—which usually takes about a week—is to rest and drink lots of fluids. It's also good to keep the air in your room moist using a humidifier. If your throat is sore try gargling with warm salt water. A nice warm cup of tea or soup will also help soothe your throat.

Cold Weather and Colds

That said, cold weather can dry out the lining of your nose, leaving you more vulnerable to infection. Some research also suggests that prolonged exposure to the cold may suppress the immune system.

So should you still bundle up this season? Yes.

But the best prevention and most important thing are to maintain smart hygiene habits.

  • Keeping your distance from sick folks
  • Keep those hands away from your face—eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Wash your hands regularly with warm water and soap—hand sanitizers also help
  • Disinfecting surfaces that get touched by lots of people)

Do self-care by getting plenty of rest and keeping your nerves at bay. Becoming run down by stress or lack of sleep can weaken your immune system and make you susceptible to illness.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles