Can Sauna & Steam Rooms Cause Hyperpigmentation? (Prevention Tips)

Hyperpigmentation is a skin condition that causes patches or areas of skin to be noticeably darker than others. It is most commonly caused by an increased amount of melanin in the skin. Increased melanin production can be linked to sun exposure, high levels of certain hormones in the body, and as a side effect of some medications. 

Saunas and steam rooms can worsen existing conditions, but they cannot cause hyperpigmentation. However, individuals who experience hyperpigmentation should take extra care when using sauna or steam rooms. There are a variety of steps one can take (like lowering room temperature, using a sauna for a short duration, using exfoliating scrubs post-sauna, etc) to ensure the least amount of adverse effects when using these facilities.

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In the rest of the article, you will learn how infrared sauna affects your skin and what steps can you take to prevent hyperpigmentation caused by sauna and steam room sessions.

Table of Contents

How Heat From the Sauna, Steam Rooms & Infrared Sauna Affect Your Skin

The theory behind the practice of using saunas, steam rooms, and infrared saunas is that they help your skin with a variety of benefits. People have been using these practices for generations for physical restoration. The heat opens the pores on your skin, and your body reacts to the heat instinctively to try to cool you down.

This opening of the pores and sweating helps to clean out your pores and detoxify your skin. Another benefit is increased circulation to your skin. This increase in flow gets more nutrients to your skin, helping it to become and look healthier. 

However, the conditions inside one of these facilities can be detrimental to your health as well if certain precautions are not taken. The salt from your sweat can cause irritation with your skin if it is not washed off properly after exiting the sauna. Sauna and steam rooms can also worsen conditions such as rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis. 

For information about after-sauna hives (skin irritation) and preventative measures, take a look at this article.

Can Saunas, Steam Rooms, or Infrared Saunas Cause Hyperpigmentation?

hyperpigmentation around mouth
Hyperpigmentation around the mouth (Image source)

They can not, but they can worsen existing conditions. Sauna, steam rooms, and infrared sauna can not cause hyperpigmentation. However, the use of these services can worsen this condition and cause other adverse effects.

Those who experience hyperpigmentation may see their condition progress faster. This is due to the heat increases the amount of melanin produced by your body.

This chemical can, in higher-than-normal amounts, cause the pigment in your skin to darken in certain areas. While some pigmentation is temporary, caused by injury or irritation of the skin, this condition can be persisting for long periods.

There are three types of hyperpigmentation: melasma, sunspots, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Melasma is believed to be caused by hormone changes and can appear in any area of the body. It is most commonly seen on the face and stomach.

Sunspots, or liver spots, are related to extended sun exposure. These spots are found in the places where the sun is shining directly on the skin, such as the head, face, and hands. Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is caused by injury or inflammation of the skin, with a common cause being acne.

Can Saunas, Steam Rooms, or Infrared Saunas Help Reduce Hyperpigmentation?

Simply put, Saunas cannot reduce hyperpigmentation or provide benefits for preexisting skin disease.

While saunas, steam rooms, and infrared saunas can not cause hyperpigmentation, they run a risk of worsening existing skin conditions. Infrared light, which accounts for approximately 40% of the light we get from the sun, can cause some serious health concerns if exposed in high doses.

However, infrared light exposure also has a number of benefits. The ideal intensity of infrared light may actually have some restorative properties. It can affect the cell renewal process and stimulate collagen.

Learn more about infrared saunas and their benefits.

How to Protect Your Skin During Sauna & Steam Room Sessions

1. Remove Any Makeup From the Face Before

Properly cleansing your face before entering the sauna will ensure that you can receive all cleansing benefits from the sauna. This will help to open up all of your pores to get the best cleansing. Having sweat, oil, or makeup on the skin inhibits the cleaning effects of the sauna. 

2. Use Lower-Temperature Rooms

Choosing a Sauna with a lower temperature may be less irritating to those with sensitive skin. For individuals who have pre-existing skin conditions, higher temperatures may be more aversive and cause conditions such as Rosacea to “flare up”. 

measuring room temperature
Measuring room temperature (Image source)

3. Only Use Rooms in Short Durations

Another good practice is to only use sauna rooms for short durations. Prolonged exposure could have adverse effects or exacerbate skin conditions instead of providing benefits. 

4. Drink Plenty of Water During

It is recommended that individuals using the sauna bring a bottle of water to drink throughout their session. Drinking water throughout the sauna session will help to filter toxins from the body and further increase the benefits of the sauna. 

5. Take a Cold Shower Afterward

Immediately after the sauna, you should take a cold shower. This will help to wash away the toxins, sweat, etc that is released during the sauna session. This will also help to close up the pores, which can prevent irritations such as acne from forming. 

6. Use Moisturizer Afterward

After a cold shower, use a moisturizer on your skin to seal in the benefits from the session. However, it is important to make sure that you use a hypoallergenic lotion that will not clog the pores. The most beneficial option would be to choose a lotion made from natural ingredients without any perfumes or dyes. 


Saunas have many benefits for the skin when used properly and in moderation. If used excessively, saunas can exacerbate existing skin conditions. However, saunas do not cause hyperpigmentation. With that being said, saunas also do not reduce hyperpigmentation, but excessive use of the sauna can irritate already sensitive skin.

It is crucial to protect your skin before, during, and after using the sauna. This includes being mindful of the temperature and duration, staying hydrated, and cleansing your skin properly following the sauna.

Following a sauna session, it is also important to take note of any irritations that you notice so that you can make changes to the following session as needed to gain the desired effects. 

(Featured image by Baseimage from Canva Photos)

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