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Last updated: November 28, 2022

Sleeping With Wet Hair: Can It Cause Dandruff + Fungal Infections?

sleeping with wet hair fungal infection dermatitis dandruff hair breakage some medical experts say
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Seborrheic Dermatitis // Photo Credit: Vedix.com Blog Post

What Medical Experts Have To Say About Sleeping With Wet Hair

We’ve all heard our moms or grandmothers say this: “Don’t go to sleep with your hair wet or you’ll catch a cold.” Fortunately, without any actual medical evidence that hitting the pillow after a late-night shower can make you sick, consider this myth DEBUNKED or family folklore.


But, according to some medical experts, you do have something to worry going to bed with soaking wet hair. That’s the risk of developing a fungal infection of the scalp, dandruff or hair breakage.


In April 2021, a TikTok went viral and shocked the internet when user @timbosliceoflife12 claimed that going to bed with wet hair can cause fungal infections, bad breakouts and even scalp ring worm (yikes!). Click here to watch it on TikTok! Since you can’t believe everything you see on social media, we did a deep dive ourselves into the possible scalp and health issues caused by sleeping with wet hair.



Sleeping With Wet Hair Can Increase The Risk Of Fungal Infections, Some Medical Experts Say

According to a Healthline article that featured Dr. Chirag Shah, MD, a board-certified emergency physician and co-founder of Push Health, sleeping with dry hair when possible is recommended. Here’s why: Sleeping with wet hair can increase the risk of developing fungal infections of the scalp, said Dr. Shah via Healthline.


“Fungi, such as Malassezia, can lead to conditions like dandruff or dermatitis,” added Dr. Shah. While fungus is already present on the scalp naturally, pillows are another hotbed source for fungus, the article reported. Picture this: Sleeping all night on a warm, wet pillow, aka the perfect environment for a breeding ground where funguses can grow.  


“Seborrheic dermatitis is a very common skin condition that causes redness, scaly patches and dandruff,” according to Healthline. Photo Credit: Healthline Media.


An older study featured in the Healthline report that studied fungal contamination on pillowcases showed that anywhere between 4 to 16 species were found on the pillows tested. One of these species discovered was Aspergillus fumigatus, which according to Healthline, is: “A common species of fungus responsible for causing severe infections in people with weakened immune systems. It can also worsen symptoms of asthma.”


“Seborrheic dermatitis is also called dandruff, seborrheic eczema and seborrheic psoriasis. For infants, the condition is known as cradle cap,” according to Mayo Clinic. Photo Credit: Mayo Clinic.


But remember, every person is different, and this does not mean that everyone will experience these issues.


Hair Breakage Is Another Common Concern

It’s pretty common to toss freshly washed hair into some braids or buns before going to sleep. This creates natural wave patterns in the hair, instead of the random dents that sleeping on hair that’s left down can cause—but this might not be the best option!


“Hair is at its weakest when it’s wet,” said Dr. Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, a NYC-based, board-certified dermatologist in the Healthline article. “The main risk is breakage of hair when tossing and turning while sleeping.” When wet hair is braided or in a tight updo, aka styles with more tension, this can cause issues with breakage, added Dr. Mudgil via Healthline. So leaving it down may be the better move for sleeping with wet hair.  


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Refresh Your Nightly Routine With These Tips For Scalp + Hair Health  

Regardless of sleeping with wet or dry hair, everyone can benefit from a healthy hair care regimen. Here are some helpful tips!


If you don’t want to sleep with soaking wet hair:


  • Squeeze out any excess water from the hair after washing.
  • Allow the hair to air-dry as much as possible.
  • Or, blow-dry up to 70 percent.


Maintain healthier hair and scalp:



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