Wet Hair at Night, Right on Grandma! (Pedcast)

Grandma often said that going to bed with wet hair can make a child sick. Is this true? Does this condition matter to your child’s health? Dr. Smolen discusses this subject in today’s podcast and gives his perspective on this burning question. Have a chuckle and find out the answer at the same time.



Dr Paul Smolen here, your pedcast host for another edition of DocSmo.com…the podcast that helps parents raise their children from the playpen to professional school

Winter in Charlotte

Gets cold even here.  Sometimes it even gets below freezing yal!

I was talking to a patient the other day about one of those Granma truths, does wet hair at bed make a child sick.

I get asked about this enough that I thought I would weigh in on subject


Before I give you my perspective on this burning subject, let’s review a few other Grandmaisms shall we?


Fish oil is good for your health–yes see the cast on “ADD Integrative approach”

Drinking soda is bad for your health—yes, yes, yes see the cast on “Why your child shouldn’t have sugary drinks”

Exposure to extremely cold weather can give you pneumonia- probably yes.

Chicken soup helps respiratory infections- definite yes see the cast on “Winterizing your children”.

Going outside everyday for fresh air good for your health- Yes see cast on Vitamin D.

An apple a day is good for your health- yes See the cast on “The Supper table”.


Well, you get the idea

Grandma was right more often than not.

You remember that DocSmo pearl,  “If she weren’t right, why bother to pass it on.”

If Grandma had been a stock investor, she would have been the Warren Buffet of her time!

So what about this going to bed with wet hair thing… was she right on this one?


In my opinion yes

I see a lot of children with a condition in the ear canal called otitis externa or swimmer’s ear.

We have discussed this on previous pod casts but for those who don’t know, this is a skin condition in the ear canal manifesting as a sore tender outer ear, sometimes with a loss of hearing and very rarely fever.

When a child gets otitis externa they have an overgrowth of either bacteria or fungus that has infected the tender skin in the outer ear canal.

And what promotes the conditions for this to happen?  You got it a damp ear canal for a prolonged time like that when a child, especially a girl goes to bed with long wet hair.

The pillow gets wet, there is probably water still in the ear canal and the hair just serves to keep things damp for hours.

This is a beautiful recipe for an overgrowth of loads of microbes.

Remember, bacteria usually only take about 10 minutes to reproduce so a few become many very, very quickly.


When I see a child with otitis externa, especially recurrent cases I find that they are either competitive swimmers, have eczema in the ear canal, or they are a child (especially a girl) who goes to bed regularly with wet hair.

So “I” think grandma was right again.  The lady was a genious.

The next time you hear your Grandma’s voice telling you something that she believed would help your health, listen carefully.  She probably knew exactly what she was talking about.


To prevent your little Janie or Johnny from getting a painful case of otitis externa, dry that hair and those little ears after bath time, especially at night.

The folk remedy of a few drops of a half and half mixture of rubbing alcohol and vinegar works incredibly well to prevent otitis externa.

This mixture both dries out the outer ear canal and kills all the bacteria and fungus effectively stopping the whole infection process.


Well, that’s it for today.

I hope you found that little discussion useful.

Make sure to pass this one on to grandma or great grandma if they are interested.

You can easily send any of the DocSmo podcasts to anyone you like, especially grandma, at my website DocSmo.com

And don’t forget to like DocSmo on face book, subscribe on itunes or like us on twitter.

This is, Dr. Paul Smolen, reminding you that you should care, if your child goes to bed with wet hair.


Until next time

Referenced DocSmo Pedcasts:

1. ADD, the Integrative Approach

2. Why your child shouldn’t have sugary drinks

3. Winterizing your children

4. Grandma, Cod Liver Oil, and the 2011 news on Vitamin D

5. The Supper table

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