Most prevention strategies for the common cold focus on the use of vitamins, minerals, herbs, and lifestyle changes. There has not been any conclusive evidence to show a vitamin or herbal product that impacts the incidence of the common cold. There is conflicting reports with regards to the efficacy of exercise in preventing the common cold. Moderate intensity exercise sustained over one year appeared to decrease the incidence of self-reported colds in a randomized study.
There is an increase in use of face masks by travelers and workers in Asia to prevent the common cold. There was a study that was a randomized trial of the use of face masks by healthcare workers in a hospital in Japan found no difference in the self-reported frequency of colds between groups assigned to the mask or no mask.
Gargling with water has been thought to help with prevention of the cold. A randomized trial in 387 healthy adults compared self-reported symptoms of upper respiratory infection over 60 days in three groups: usual care (controls), gargling with water three times daily, and gargling with povidone-iodine. Patients who gargled with water, compared to controls, reported fewer incidents of cold symptoms. There was no effect seen for those who gargled with povidone.
Washing hands and covering your cough can additionally help the spread of the common cold. Avoid public areas when you are ill to help prevent the spread of illness.