As a kid, how many times did you hear, “Put a coat on so you don’t catch a cold!”? I always thought it was a myth, but it must be a particularly hearty one because now that I’m a parent, I still hear other parents regularly say it to their kids. You can’t really get sick from improper outerwear, can you? Well, it certainly doesn’t help…
First and foremost, in order to catch a cold, you need to be exposed to a virus. That happens when people sneeze or cough without covering their mouth; Or wipe their nose or mouth and touch a surface that you touch with your hands and then you touch your nose or mouth (cold germs can live on surfaces for seven days -- yuck!). Hopefully your immune system is strong and your body will fight the virus off. But certain things can weaken your immune system, making you more vulnerable to the virus taking hold within you.
Eating well and getting enough rest have always been pillars of staying healthy, but body temperature may play a small part. A 2017 study found that cells kept between 25°C and 33°C in a lab were more easily infected with viruses. In 2005, subjects with cold feet (their feet were plunked into cold water daily) got sicker faster than the control group with no water, and a 2015 study found cold viruses replicated more quickly in mice at cold temperatures. Therefore, a cold body temp does not help you fight off germs that you’ve already caught.
Other things that make it harder to avoid colds and flus are dry nasal passages. Cold air can be drier (as can heated air indoors) and that in turn makes your nasal passages dry. When your sinuses are dry, germs invite themselves in and hang on.
TL;DR: Wearing a coat won’t stop you from getting a cold, but it may prevent you from keeping a cold. Good luck relaying all this to your kids. They probably still won’t want to wear a coat, but there’s always hope that common sense will outweigh stubborn rebellion. Until then, zip up and keep the humidifier running so at the ver least, you don’t catch their cold!