Determining the right temperature to shower at is a well-debated topic. Some people fall into the extremes and only do cold showers, whereas others fall in the opposing camp and swear by hot showers.
However, dermatologists have a general consensus that most people should fall somewhere in the middle, where the temperature is neither too cold nor too hot.
The exact temperature you should shower at will depend on your age and overall health. Still, there are recommended ranges that the temperature should fall within.
That’s all well and good, but how do you even measure the water temperature coming out of a shower? That’s what we’ll explore in this article, as well as what temperature to shower at based on your age.
The most accurate way to measure your shower water’s temperature is to use a thermometer. You have a variety of handheld thermometers to choose from, such as a stainless steel digital thermometer or a pocket thermometer. Any waterproof and instant-read thermometer that provides an accurate reading will do the job just fine.
Simply put the thermometer’s tip near the shower head to know its temperature readings. You’ll want to ensure the point is in the middle of the current, as this will give a good indication of the true temperature coming out of the shower head.
If you don’t want to faff about with thermometers and test the temperature every time you shower, installing a shower with a temperature control system is best. There are two main types to choose from, a thermostatic mixer shower and a digital shower.
Thermostatic mixer showers
Thermostatic mixer showers create the desired temperature by combining both your cold and hot water supply before the water is released through the shower head. As opposed to some other shower systems, the temperature of the water flow never changes, regardless if someone runs a faucet elsewhere in the house.
Digital showers create the desired temperature the same way a thermostatic mixer shower does. But since you have a digital thermostat, you have greater accuracy in how hot or cold the temperature gets.
The best shower temperature for adults is between 96.8º F and 105º F (36º C and 40.5º C). This is considered 'lukewarm', and the right water temperature, where it’s warm enough compared to your body but not so warm that it negatively impacts your skin health.
Our skin consists of natural proteins and oils called sebum. It acts as the first layer of protection as it keeps your pores free from dirt, debris, and infection. It also coats your skin cells and keeps them moisturized so that they function properly and look healthy.
If you shower with water that's too hot, it can wash away the skin oils completely. This leaves your skin to fend for itself, allowing all kinds of dirt into its pores. It also causes inflammation in the skin layer, making your skin look and feel dry.
That’s why you want your shower’s water temperature to be slightly warm but not so hot that it washes away all your natural skin oils. As a general rule of thumb, if your bathroom is so full of steam that it starts to block your vision, it could be that the temperature is too high or that the time spent in the shower is too long.
This lukewarm temperature range applies to most adults. Babies, young children, and the elderly will have different requirements. This is because of the effect water temperature has on their skin layer. Let’s take a look at the ideal temperature for babies first.
The best shower temperature for babies is 98.6º F and 100.4º F (37º C and 38º C). As you can see, compared to adults, babies have a stricter temperature range that they can tolerate. There are various reasons for this.
One of them is that babies have thinner skin. For instance, suppose that the water temperature is too hot. An exposure time of just five seconds can cause your baby to suffer a third-degree burn. On the flip side, if the water is too cold, it can lead to permanent nerve and tissue damage.
Another reason why temperature is so important for babies is that they cannot autoregulate their body temperature as well as adults. For example, they risk losing heat up to four times as fast.
This means that if it’s too cold, they won’t be able to heat their body up in time. Similarly, if it’s too hot, they won’t be able to cool their body down as fast as they need to.
Another thing you must remember with babies is that the air temperature should be between 75º F and 80º F (23.9º C and 26.7º C). This helps them keep their temperature steady when they are done with their shower.
Young children, much like babies, also have to be careful with their shower temperature since they, too, have thin and sensitive skin.
Even though they are older and their skin has had time to thicken a bit, it hasn’t quite developed to the levels of an adult. The same applies to their ability to autoregulate their body temperature.
As such, you will want to adjust the ideal water temperature for young children to somewhere between 98.6º F and 100º F (37º C and 38º C).
The ideal water temperature for elderly people will vary slightly. This is because age, health problems, and body type must all be considered when determining how warm or cold the shower temperature is.
For example, elderly adults may have slower movement and impaired senses which alters their ability not only to gauge the temperature but also change it in time before it becomes too hot or cold.
Let’s use an example of how hot temperatures can affect elderly people. At a water temperature of 102° F (38.9° C), the liquid won’t be hot enough to cause any harm to the person’s skin but may result in cardiovascular problems.
When hot water touches the skin, the blood vessels on our skin dilate – they get bigger and wider. This results in more blood flowing through the skin’s surface than to the person’s vital organs as the body attempts to cool itself down.
For a normal adult, this won’t be an issue. However, for the elderly, this can present a risk since their heart will have to work harder to pump enough blood to their organs.
On the other hand, if the temperature is too cold, the blood vessels will contract – they get smaller and thinner. This results in the body having to work harder to raise its internal temperature, which, again, can put a strain on the person’s heart.
Knowing this, it’s recommended that the ideal shower temperature for elderly people should be anywhere between 97° F and 100° F (36.1° C and 37.8° C).
No, there is still a place for cold and hot showers.
For instance, numerous studies show that cold showers and ice cold baths can boost the immune system, help stimulate nerve endings, improve the look of skin and hair, and increase blood circulation throughout the body.
As for hot showers, they are known to help with muscle soreness, improve flexibility, treat colds, and more.
However, it’s important to note that your age, your body type, and overall health will significantly influence the temperature and duration of your hot and cold showers. That’s why you must ease your way into it to avoid accidents.
It’s important to know how hot or cold your shower is since this can drastically impact your overall health and skin. Suppose you don’t already have a temperature control system in your shower. In that case, the only way to truly measure its water flow is to use a thermometer.
The best temperature for you will largely depend on your age, and getting this wrong can result in severe health risks. This is particularly relevant for babies, young children, and the elderly, who must be extra careful.