Fever is a natural way for your body to fight off infections. Your body deliberately raises its temperature to create a less hospitable environment for viruses and bacteria. While sometimes uncomfortable, a fever isn’t a bad thing in itself. But showering during a fever raises some important considerations. So, is it a good idea to hop in the shower when you’re feeling feverish?
Should You Shower With a Fever?
The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. Several factors contribute to a safe and helpful decision about showering with a fever. It mostly depends on how you feel and what your goals are. Here’s what to mull over:
Benefits of Showering with a Fever
- Temperature Regulation: A lukewarm shower can help lower your body temperature temporarily. If the fever is very high or making you extremely uncomfortable, this quick reduction might provide some relief.
- Comfort and Relaxation: Warm water can feel soothing and offer temporary relaxation from the aches and chills often associated with fever. Taking a brief shower may boost your overall comfort.
- Hygiene: Fevers may cause sweating, leaving you feeling sticky or less clean. A shower can help you feel refreshed and more comfortable.
Potential Risks of Showering with a Fever
- Weakness and Exhaustion: Fevers often cause weakness and fatigue. Standing in the shower might worsen these symptoms and present a fall risk for some.
- Changes in Body Temperature: If the shower water is too cold, it could cause shivering. Shivering raises your internal body temperature, counteracting the goal of fever reduction. Conversely, an overly hot shower might also spike your internal temperature.
- Dehydration: Fevers make you more prone to dehydration, and staying under hot water too long can worsen the situation.
How to Shower Safely with a Fever
If you decide a shower is right for you while having a fever, use these safety tips:
- Lukewarm Water: The water temperature should be lukewarm, not hot or cold. Aim for a temperature that feels slightly warm and comfortable.
- Short Shower: Don’t spend a lot of time in the shower. Keep it short and sweet – 5 to 10 minutes should be plenty.
- Sit Down: If you feel weak or lightheaded, consider bringing a shower chair or stool into the shower with you.
- Ask for Assistance: If you’re unsure, ask a friend or family member to stay nearby in case you need help.
- Dry Off Thoroughly: After the shower, wrap yourself in a warm towel and carefully dry off completely. Avoid any chills afterward.
Alternatives to Showering
If you don’t feel up for a shower, there are other things you can do to manage your fever and get some relief:
- Sponge Bath: Use a washcloth dipped in lukewarm water to sponge your forehead, armpits, and groin. This can be a gentler option than a shower if you’re feeling fatigued.
- Rest: Getting plenty of rest is crucial when you have a fever. Your body is working hard to fight off the illness, so allow yourself adequate time for recovery.
- Hydration: Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Water, tea, juice, and electrolyte beverages are all great choices.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medications: Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) can help reduce fever and alleviate aches and pains. Follow the dosage instructions carefully.
When to See a Doctor
In most cases, fevers aren’t a cause for alarm. However, if you experience the following, it’s best to contact your doctor:
- Fever of 103°F (39.4°C) or higher that persists
- Signs of dehydration (like dark urine, limited urination, dry mouth)
- Fever accompanied by confusion, stiff neck, or severe headache
- Fever lasting for more than a few days
- If you have a pre-existing condition or weak immune system
Additional Considerations Whether or Not to Shower
Here are a few more points that might be helpful as you decide whether or not to shower while feverish:
- The Cause of the Fever: Knowing the likely cause of your fever can help with decision-making. If it’s a simple viral infection, the considerations above apply. However, if your fever is due to something more serious, you might want extra guidance from your doctor.
- Children and Fevers: For children, lukewarm baths can be exceptionally helpful in managing high fevers and discomfort. Remember that children are more susceptible to rapid temperature changes. Monitor their reactions closely and be ready to adjust the water temperature. Avoid leaving young children unattended in the bath at any time.
- Don’t Sweat it (Literally): While fevers do sometimes lead to sweating, remember that sweat itself doesn’t automatically mean you need a shower. It’s just your body’s way of releasing heat. A quick change of clothes can often do the trick until you feel ready for a shower or bath.
The Bottom Line
Fevers are part of your body’s natural defense against infections. Generally, showering while you have a fever is safe as long as you feel up to it and prioritize lukewarm water over extremes. Ultimately, the decision should rest on your comfort, the level of discomfort the fever is causing, and your physical limitations.
The most important things when you have a fever are:
- Rest when you can
- Hydrate throughout the day
- Use OTC medications safely if needed
- Contact your doctor with concerns
Listen to your body. It’ll give you the best indications about what it needs to fight off the fever and get well!
1. Will a cold shower lower my fever?
No, a cold shower could be counterproductive, as it might trigger shivering and make your body temperature go up.
2. Should I avoid showering altogether if I have a fever?
Not necessarily. Showering isn’t harmful if you feel up to it and take precautions. If you’re very weak or the idea of being upright seems daunting, sponge baths or rest might be a better choice. Listen to your body and prioritize your comfort.
3. Is there a time of day when it’s better to shower with a fever?
Generally, it’s wise to avoid showering close to bedtime. Fevers naturally fluctuate, and your body temperature might rise slightly during the night. A shower may disrupt those natural rhythms or leave you feeling chilled upon getting ready for bed.