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 to 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.

How to choose between hot and cold water for bath?

what Ayurveda says?

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.

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 in the 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 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.

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  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.

    • 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.

  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.

    • Cold water bath is an effective ways to treat laziness and alertness.
      There is no specific order as such. It really depends on personal choices.
      If you are using shampoo, then better to rinse of the head first. so that, throughout bath, more and more of water will rinse the head.
      If there is sinusitis problem, better to avoid cold bath, but if done, then better to put water on head at the end.

      • 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!

  3. voruganti vishwanath says:

    Having bath in winter in morning is a good practice??

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      Yes. It is a good practice, for those who can tolerate cold water. No problem.

  4. sir good evening which water (hot or cold) is best for mumbai region & age 27 weight 94

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      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.

  5. babagana ibraheem says:

    thank you doctore i found your information very useful perticularly the tips on eyes health may god blesses you

  6. An Useful article. You missed to mention hot or cold water after Massage!

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      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.

      • Hi Doc if you are tired it’s o.k to take a bath a hot water?

        • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

          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.

  7. Stella H Howell says:

    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.

  8. michelle lelievre says:

    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.

  9. michelle lelievre says:

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

  10. ranjana says:

    Hello Sir,

    My experience is that lukewarm water suits all season.


  11. 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 ?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      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.

      • Anamoy Singha Roy says:

        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 .

        • Dr Malini Bhat says:

          Sir, This might answer your questions:
          Although there are many individual benefits of hot and cold water, deciding which is the best for you depends upon your body type. As per Ayurveda, hot water should be used for cleaning the body and cold water for the head as hot water is harmful for the eyes and hair. It also depends upon the temperature of one’s body. A person with excessive heat in the body should bathe with water at temperatures lower than their body’s and vice versa.
          Here are benefits of both hot and cold water baths for you to decide better:
          Benefits of a hot water bath:
          • Hot water baths are excellent to cleanse your body as the warmer temperatures tend to kill all the germs that you are exposed to throughout the day. It is also helpful in maintaining better personal hygiene.
          • They are extremely beneficial to relieve cold and cough as the hot water and steam tends to clear your airways and help in decongesting your nose and throats.
          • They are also known to beat insomnia and sleep disorders and are excellent to induce sleep.
          • Hot water baths are also known to relieve stress and fatigue and also help relax sore muscles. It has also been shown to improve the flexibility of muscles giving you a supple body.
          Benefits of a cold water bath:
          • Cold water showers give you a push start in the morning. They tend to stimulate your nerve endings and help getting rid of the laziness and sleepiness.
          • Helps improve reproductive health in men. Studies have shown that cold water showers stimulate the release of testosterone which helps in increasing your libido.
          • Cold water baths have shown to stimulate the lymphatic and immune system, which helps in boosting the production of infection fighting cells thereby increasing your immunity.
          • Your lung function improves tremendously with cold water showers. That feeling of breathlessness you get when you pour cold water over your head is the reason behind this property of cold water. You tend to hold your breath with each mug of water and slowly release your breath,thus improving your lung function.

  12. 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.

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

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

  13. Shivalingaiah says:

    More frequently I get continuous yawning with tears in eyes,which makes me irritated even when not tired.Please suggest me to get rid off this kind of uncomfortable situations.

  14. Muneer Tharayil says:

    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.

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      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.

  15. 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

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

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

  16. 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?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      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.

  17. Gangadhar Dharmanna says:

    Sir someone said me hot water causes for hair loss and I am started daily hot water for only body and cold water for face and head.
    Can I continue same process or anything need to change in this, and my body have too much heat

  18. Ramya sree says:

    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?

    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu) says:

      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.

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