Is Infrared Sauna Bad for Melasma? (Everything You Need to Know)

While Infrared saunas may offer a range of health benefits, anyone with skin conditions such as melasma should take extra care before taking a dive into one.

Infrared light can improve circulation and collagen production, however, long-term exposure may be linked to the overproduction of melanin, worsening melasma symptoms. That being said, it is important to speak with your doctor or dermatologist before using an infrared sauna especially if you suffer from any form of hyperpigmentation.

Saunas are known to increase skin temperature thus causing inflammation which could lead to more pronounced dark spots for those with pre-existing conditions like melasma.

Many health professionals suggest limiting sessions to 10 minutes or less each time and generally avoiding midday sun rays when possible as an additional safety measure.

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What Does Heat From the Infrared Sauna Do to Your Skin

It turns out that using an infrared sauna can bring a myriad of benefits to your skin health, from improving its appearance and elasticity to reducing inflammation and helping you relax. 

Infrared saunas use far-infrared light waves to penetrate the skin, which helps reduce inflammation and stress levels. This is because when your body is exposed to a high temperature, it triggers the release of endorphins, natural stress relievers that help you feel relaxed.

In addition, the heat from an infrared sauna also increases blood flow and circulation throughout your body, including your skin.

This helps nourish your skin with oxygen and nutrients while flushing out toxins that can cause inflammation or damage healthy cells. 
One of the most beneficial aspects of using an infrared sauna is that it promotes collagen production in your skin. Collagen is responsible for keeping your skin looking firm and elastic by providing structural support.

As we age, our bodies naturally produce less collagen which leads to wrinkles, dryness, and sagging skin—but regular use of an infrared sauna can help combat this by increasing collagen production for younger-looking, healthier skin. 

How Infrared Sauna Effects Hyperpigmentation

woman with a skin condition
Woman with a skin condition (Image source)

Hyperpigmentation, or an excess of pigment, can be caused by a variety of factors such as aging, sun damage, inflammation, and hormonal changes.

While traditional treatments for hyperpigmentation usually involve topical creams and serums, infrared saunas have been gaining in popularity for their potential to improve the appearance of skin by reducing hyperpigmented areas.

Infrared saunas use light to allow heat to penetrate deep into the skin without heating the air around you. This helps stimulate circulation, which can help even out skin tone.

Infrared saunas also help your lymphatic system get rid of stagnant toxins that could be contributing to the occurrence of pigmented areas.

In addition to improving circulation and detoxifying your body from within, infrared sauna warmth can actually stimulate natural cell regeneration; promoting healthy collagen growth that decreases the appearance of age spots over time.

Furthermore, since infrared penetrates all levels of skin tissue including hair follicles, and tightens pores on all layers of skin, it is believed to aid in reversing discoloration at a cellular level providing long-lasting results.

Can Infrared Saunas Worsen Melasma?

It is important to understand that infrared saunas do not cause melasma but rather can worsen existing cases of melasma due to their intense heat.

The extreme temperatures of an infrared sauna can cause trauma to the melanocytes (pigment-producing cells) in your skin which can result in increased hyperpigmentation (darkening) in areas affected by melasma. Additionally, sweat produced during an infrared sauna session can further irritate already sensitive skin affected by melasma.  

Primarily, one should be aware that if their body temperature rises excessively in the sauna it could lead to dehydration or even a heat stroke. Additionally, for those with already sensitive skin affected by melasma, it could aggravate the pigmentation issues leading to worsening discoloration long-term.

Thus, individuals should always look into the potential risks of infrared sauna therapy and consult with their doctor before using this form of treatment on their melasma condition.

How to Protect Your Skin During Infrared Sauna Sessions

1. Keep Your Sessions Short

One of the most important things you can do to protect your skin during infrared sauna sessions is to keep your sessions short. Infrared saunas emit high levels of infrared radiation, which can be harmful to the skin if you are exposed for too long. It is recommended that you limit your exposure to no more than 15 minutes per session.

2. Use a Lower Setting

Another way to protect your skin during infrared sauna sessions is to use a lower setting. Infrared saunas have different settings that allow you to control the level of infrared radiation that is emitted. By using a lower setting, you will be exposed to less radiation and will be less likely to experience skin damage.

3. Wear Loose-Fitting Clothing

It is also important to wear loose-fitting clothing when using an infrared sauna. Tight-fitting clothing can trap heat and increase your skin temperature, which can lead to skin damage. Wearing loose-fitting clothing will allow your skin to breathe and will help to prevent overheating.

women wearing a towel inside a sauna
Women wearing a towel loosely inside a sauna (Image source)

4. Drink Plenty of Water

It is also important to drink plenty of water before and after your infrared sauna session. This will help to keep your body hydrated and will help to flush toxins out of your system. Drinking water will also help to cool your body down and will prevent dehydration.

5. Avoid Lotions and Oils

You should also avoid using lotions or oils on your skin before using an infrared sauna. These products can trap heat and increase your risk of experiencing skin damage. If you must use a lotion or oil, it is best to apply it after your session.

6. Use a Towel

You should also use a towel when using an infrared sauna. This will help to absorb sweat and will prevent you from slipping on the bench. It is also important to use a clean towel so that you do not transfer bacteria or other contaminants onto your skin


While infrared saunas offer numerous health benefits, individuals with skin conditions like melasma should exercise caution before using them. The intense heat in infrared saunas can exacerbate melasma symptoms by affecting melanocytes and increasing hyperpigmentation.

It’s essential to consult with a doctor or dermatologist before using an infrared sauna, limit sessions, use lower settings, wear loose-fitting clothing, stay hydrated, and avoid lotions or oils to protect the skin during sauna sessions.

(Featured image by Corelens from Canva Photos)

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