Vitamin C? No wet hair outside? What actually works to prevent kids' colds

Posted at 3:13 PM, Jan 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-25 17:54:09-05

(WXYZ) — Can you stop a child from getting sick?

New research has found that a good chunk of parents have tried unproven “folklore strategies” in hopes of preventing their children from catching the common cold. But do they work?

Here to explain the myths versus facts is Chief Health Editor Dr. Partha Nandi.

Question: What are the most popular folklore strategies?

Well, the first one I’m sure you’ve heard from your mother and that’s “Don’t go outside with your hair wet or you’ll catch a cold”. Other popular words of advice include taking lots of vitamin C and staying indoors during the winter. Now winter is certainly prime time for kids to catch colds, and I get how parents are willing to try all kinds of things to keep their kids healthy. You know I’m a parent too and my two youngest have picked up their fair share of colds. So it would be great if it were that easy to avoid colds, but unfortunately, these 3 strategies are really just healthcare myths.

Question: Vitamin C is often promoted to fight off colds. So science doesn’t support this?

Scientific evidence doesn't back up the claims made and these types of products have not been proven to prevent colds. So why is it that manufacturers can make such bold claims? It’s because the FSA does not regulate supplements and vitamins. So companies don’t have to prove that their product actually works.

Question: So what are the best strategies to prevent colds?

Colds are spread through germs, not because you have wet hair and you’re outside. I think being outdoors is very important. So go for a walk, build a snowman, and get some exercise as it can boost your immune system. I have other strategies so here are my prescriptions:

1. Germs live on surfaces and are easily picked up by our hands. So tell your kids not to put their hands in their mouths. And if they’re a thumb sucker, work on breaking that habit.

2. Kids spend a lot of time at school so make sure they understand how important it is to wash their hands often using soap and water. Hand sanitizer is a good substitute.

3. Colds can be spread through coughing and sneezing. So use a tissue or the crook of your elbow as this helps prevent mucous droplets from spreading.

4. And lastly, your child should not share any of their utensils or drinks with others.


We all know it’s important to exercise, but too many folks struggle to achieve their fitness goals. Why? Because you need “Fitness with a Purpose”. In this week’s episode of The Dr. Nandi Show, you’ll learn that to be successful, you need a plan. But that doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym 3 times a week. You just need to incorporate dynamic movement into your life. Join Dr. Nandi, MD thisSunday, January 27th, 2019 at 12 pm to hear three fitness experts discuss how people can tap into their best selves through purposeful movement.