How Can You Measure the Water Temperature?

The debate about the correct temperature for bathing or showering has been there since ancient Rome. But based on findings from various dermatologists, the proper temperature for bathing or showering depends on the age and condition of the person. For example, whether young, old, sick, or disabled.

The issue of the right bathing or showering temperature still makes many to scratch their heads. Maybe you are one of them, but today is your lucky day. In this article, everything you need to know about the right temperature for bathing or showering will get discussed. We shall also answer questions like the right bathing water temperature, how to measure it, and how water temperature affects various people.
Let’s start by discussing the right temperature for bathing or showering. You may need to relax and continue reading to grasp some insight.

What is the Right Temperature for Bathing or Showering?

According to research, cold baths or showers are beneficial. But according to a dermatologist based at the Cleveland Clinic renown as Dr. Melissa Piliang, the ideal temperature for bathing should be 112 degrees Fahrenheit. She further stated that this temperature is perfect for washing away bacteria and environmental dirt. But based on many doctors, hot water gotten from the taps can raise to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, making it too hot for a bath or shower. Unfortunately, you can’t tell the temperature of your bathing or showering water by feeling it. You need a water measuring device like a thermometer. But according to Dr. Piliang’s opinion, the right water for bathing or showering should not get uncomfortably hot but should feel warm.

If you use scorching hot water for showering or bathing, you will damage your epidermis’s protective layer. Based on what Dr. Piliang informed the Wall Street Journal, the epidermis refrains germs and lousy water from entering the skin and allows in good water. It also helps in moisturizing our skin. Damaging the epidermis will, in turn, affect the entire body negatively. According to her explanation, the protective layer of the skin melts away when the water temperature exceeds 112 degrees Fahrenheit. Dr. Piliang also narrated further that age is a primary player on the right temperature for showering or bathing. She explains that the skin from young people replaces the protective layer quicker than that of the older people. You may wonder how one can measure water temperature for bathing for various categories of people. Let’s start with that of the babies.

How Do You Measure the Right Bath Water Temperature for a Baby?

Just like adults, the correct water temperature for bathing babies depends on their age. The baby too may prefer his or her water temperature. But for the newborns, it is crucial to use the right water temperature when bathing them. You may ask why; it is because they usually are not in a position to regulate their body temperature. Compared to the adults, their rate of losing heat is four times faster. The ideal water temperature for bathing for a newborn should be 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit to 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius to 38 degrees Celsius. It is suitable because it is closer to that of the baby. But when they grow older, the ideal temperature shifts to 97 degrees Fahrenheit to 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 37 degrees Celsius to 38 degrees Celsius.

To measure the baby’s bathing water temperature, you need to dip your elbow or wrist in the water. Are you wondering why we use our elbows and wrist to check the water temperature of the baby? It is because our hands tolerate higher temperatures. But before dipping your wrist or elbow, stir the water to achieve an equal temperature of the entire water in the tub or basin. When the baby is in the water, and you decide to add some hot water, never do so when the baby is still in the water. First, remove the baby then add the hot water.

You can also use a thermometer explicitly designed for checking the bathing water temperature of the baby. Avoid the old thermostats like those made with mercury inside the glass. They come with a limited range and are fragile, making them unsuitable for measuring temperature in a baby’s bath water. Others are new models but come with batteries, making them still not suitable because you can’t put it in water. Digital thermometers with an LCD screen for displaying the temperature and built specifically for the baby are the best. Besides, they made it fun for the baby when they float on their bathing water like a toy. If you fail to check your baby’s bathing water temperature, the following might happen.

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What May Happen If You Fail to Check Baby’s bathing Water Temperature?

If the bathing water is too hot, it is dangerous for your baby’s skin. A baby skin comes as very thin and takes like five seconds only for your little bundle of joy to suffer from a 3rd-degree burn. It is even worse for an infant, as the condition suffered is life-threatening. Cold water also affects the baby. When dipped in cold water, the baby’s body does not generate warmth in the same rate the body is losing heat. As a result, the baby’s internal temperature drops. If you want to know that the water is cold for the baby, check out the following signs:

  • Pale skin color
  • Quick or difficulty in breathing
  • Lethargy

Keeping the baby in cold water or water below 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) for long can lead to nerve or tissue damage (hypoxia). It is, therefore, crucial to check your baby’s bathing water temperature before bathing him or her. Also, ensure the area or bathroom you are washing the baby in is comfortably warm, like 24 degrees Celsius to 27 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit to 80 degrees Fahrenheit). But there is an exemption during hot weather. Reduce your baby’s normal bathing water temperature but just slightly.

Just like a baby’s bathing water temperature, the extremes are dangerous to everyone else. You may then wonder what temperature is ideal for bathing or showering for the adults. Continue reading to grasp some insight.

What Bathing Water Temperature Gets Ideal For Adults?

According to the experts, the ideal temperature for an adult’s bathing water should be above his/her body temperature with one or two degrees. An average person’s body temperature is usually 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Based on this, the best temperature for showering or bathing should be between 98 degrees Fahrenheit to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. But the elderly are sensitive and get harmed by extreme cold or hot water. If the temperature of the bathing or showering water ranges from 102 degrees Fahrenheit, it is dangerous for the elderly, and especially those with cardiovascular problems. But how do you ensure that the temperature is right for bathing? Check out the answer here in below;

How Do You Measure The Bathing and Showering Water Temperature for Adults and the Elderly?

According to the Alberta Health Services, bath water temperature should get measured using the following thermometers;

  • Handheld thermometer
  • Integrated tub thermometer
  • Bath thermometer card

The above thermometers should read 38 degrees Celsius to 43 degree Celsius on the higher side. If they read temperatures beyond or below this, that water isn’t suitable for bathing or showing. For the bath thermometer card, it should get preset to accept only the acceptable water temperature. But for many adults, temperatures beyond or below this standard temperatures may have no or small effect on them. In fact, many people do not embrace these temperatures; they use the temperature they prefer. But it isn’t the same case with the elderly. Let’s look into how different bathing water temperature affects the elderly.

You may also read other articles like best bath soap for hard water.

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How Does Bathing Water Temperature Affect the Elderly?

Though the temperature in the adults’ bathing water does not get considered as a primary safety hazard, it is to the elderly. Older adults with slow movement and impaired senses suffer a significant risk if their bathing or showering water temperature is not right. For example, hot, cold, or hot but not to the extent of burning the skin. Such bath temperatures also affect children, young adults and infants. Here is how these temperatures affect the elderly;

a. Hot Bathing or Showering Water

For the elderly with impaired temperature perception, lives alone, and suffer from physical impairment, they may take some time to respond to hot water introduced to their bodies suddenly. In such a case, you should lower the thermostat further. As a result, the water from the thermostat does not go beyond 42 degrees Celsius or 107 degrees Fahrenheit. Water at this temperature may cause no burns but can affect the body. But the harm involved depends on the time spent in hot water and how fast the person came out of the hot water.

Because of hot water, blood vessels on the skin’s surface dilate. As a result, the blood flowing to the surface of the body is more than in the internal organs. The body dissipates heat by doing so to maintain the average body temperature. Unfortunately, this causes cardiovascular strain. At 39 degrees Celsius or 102 degrees Fahrenheit, the heart starts working harder. To the elderly, it is risky.

b. Cold Bathing or Showering Water    

Cold water also comes with its risk. It acts opposite of what hot water does by causing narrowing of the superficial blood vessels which intern increases the internal organs’ blood flow, and away from the skin. In the effort of maintaining the average body temperature, the heart gets forced to work harder. The elderly get bound to many risks in such a situation. Even when the water temperature drops down from the average level with only a degree or two, an elderly can suffer from hypothermia.

c. Very Hot Water

It is a no-brainer; too hot water causes burns. The degree of the injury depends on the exposure time and the skin’s fragility. Generally, hot water from the faucet should range from 46 degrees Celsius to 50 degree Celsius or 114 Fahrenheit to 122 Fahrenheit. But it gets made favorable for bathing by cooling it with cold water and leaving it to lose heat in the environment. Even after being exposed to the hot water for a short time, temperatures like 60 degrees Celsius to 70 degree Celsius or 140 Fahrenheit to 158 Fahrenheit can cause severe burns. We should make sure that our elderlies bathe in the right water temperature. Are you wondering how? You may need to continue reading to grasp some knowledge.

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How Do You Ensure the Elderly Bathe in the Right Water Temperature?

  • Ensure the bathroom gets heated to a temperature comfortable to the elderly
  • Ensure the bathroom’s temperature, and that of the water is similar to avoid the elderly’s body from straining while trying to adjust.
  • Ensure the elderly go to bathe at the right time to avoid hurrying the bathing process. In the process, you may get to put the wrong water temperature.
  • Use a thermometer to check the water’s temperature
  • Adjust the thermostat to a comfortable temperature
  • Always test the water before the elderly get into the bath or shower.

Though there is a standard temperature for bathing water, you may wonder what happens when you choose to bath with either cold or hot water. Let’s find out herein below;

Should You Go For a Hot or Cold Water Bath?

The choice of whether to take a cold or hot water bath is subjective. But before you decide, you need to consider factors like;

  • Age
  • Season
  • Habits
  • Diseases
  • Body type
  • Time

Both cold and hot water for bathing comes with their benefits. Are you eager to know them? They include the following:

a) Benefits of Cold Water

  • Stimulating the nerve endings
  • Boosting the immune and lymphatic systems
  • Improves lung function
  • Relieves depression by fighting chemicals like beta-endorphins
  • Stimulates testosterone release, thereby improving men’s reproductive health

b) Hot Water Benefits

  • Kills germs, thus cleaning the body well
  • Improves muscle flexibility and relaxes sore muscles
  • Reduction of the body’s sugar levels
  • Helps in treating colds and coughs. The steam from hot water decongest nose and throat and clears the airways.

How to Know How Warm Bath Water Should Be


As illustrated above, the right bathing water temperature is essential regardless of age. Depending on your age and other factors discussed above, you should test the temperature of your bathing water before bathing. If you are not sure, use the methods stated above to measure the water’s temperature. Wrong bathing water temperature comes with risks as discussed above. You may also check our tips on how to prepare a perfect bath.