A sudden onset of scaly and itchy skin hit me 2 years ago and that winter felt like the longest – always on the lurch of scratching and putting on oil (coconut and jojoba oil with essential oils primarily). I knew that warm or hot bath aggregates dehydration of my skin. Hence, I started exploring on cold showers. It alleviates skin itchiness immediately after showers and I kept the habit ever since. It helped me greatly in surviving dry weather (like the Scandinavian holiday that I just went on) that I no longer need to apply any oil/lotion/cream during the day. A coconut oil wipe after a shower can keep my skin hydrated throughout the trip.
Cold shower benefits Peripheral circulation
All of you have experienced increased sweating after a hot bath / sauna and that’s due to the opening of cores at the superficial layers. Hence, drinking warm water is always recommended after saunas to replenish the fluids due to the increased rate of dehydration. On the contrary, a cold / cool bath will stimulate the drawing of warmer blood from deep vessels to the capillaries near the surface of the skin to keep the extremities warm. Toxins will still be washed through the pores after extremities warmed up, which will only take a minute for a healthy adult. Openings are good for cleaning of toxins but will not leave skin dehydrated. Scientific research have shown that there are numerous arterio-venous anastomoses (AVA) 動靜脈吻合血管 in the glabrous skin of hands and feet. These AVAs are direct connections between small veins and small arteries and it is this connection that supports the temperature regulation in human. And these AVAs staying connected are crucial in keeping us healthy[1,2].
After exposure to cold water for an extended period of time (over 10 minutes), the temperature regulation will not be desirable as it will result in excessive heat drawn and loss in keeping the temperature at peripherals regulated. For those who take cold showers, you will know that 10 minutes is a very long time – usually, you will get in and get out quick which means you will be very efficient – suit the pace of people these days and save on your energy bill! :-)
Cold Shower boosts Immune System
Apart from peripheral circulation, cold shower enhances overall circulation. Better circulation means more nourished organs and systems and you will notice that you get through cold seasons and flu seasons with fewer infections.
Hope you are with me by now, let’s look at how to get started then…....
Start Cold shower while weather is still warm
I highly recommend starting cold shower while the weather is still warm so you can adjust gradually (both psychologically and physically). You can start with a warm shower if you are used to hot showers and then gradually tune down the temperature from your shower until you no longer need to turn on your hot water switch. This also applies to people who used to have heaters on in their bathrooms in winter – you will surely be able to save space in your bathroom by not needing a heater. (Most heaters are also dehydrating, by the way.)
Who needs to be cautious about cold shower?
Gradual change in habits is always more sustainable. If you have menstrual cramps or at the third trimester of pregnancy, it may not be the best time for you to start this on the days you feel cramped. If you are very weak or have high variations of blood pressure, definitely easing in and your transition period may take longer than others in your family. Be patient and you will enjoy the benefits soon!
When in doubt, please consult your physical practitioner!
- "Arterio-venous anastomoses in the human skin and their role in temperature control", Lars Walløe, Oct 2015 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4861183/
- 血液循環決定你的壽命 ，東茂田(Shigeyoshi Higashi)著， 2008
- Secrets of Longevity: http://www.secrets-of-longevity-in-humans.com/cold-showers.html