Whether you have a minor or serious vitiligo condition, it’s important to understand how the external environment affects your skin and what can you do to prevent the worsening of your condition.
Vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder which means external environments are not primarily responsible for the disease. So sauna and steams are not going to negatively affect anyone who has a skin condition like vitiligo. That said, we don't recommend going into a hot humid environment without the express blessing of your healthcare professional.
In the rest of the article, we are going to look at how a traditional sauna, infrared sauna, and steam room affects the skin. And we are going to show you some steps that you can take to protect your skin from any kind of damage during sauna and steam room sessions.
Table of Contents
- Effects of Sauna & Steam Rooms on Your Skin?
- Will Using Sauna & Steam Rooms Cure or Worsen Vitiligo?
- Can You Use Infrared Sauna if You Have Vitiligo?
- Tips to Protect Your Skin
Effects of Sauna & Steam Rooms on Your Skin?
Going into a sauna can be the best thing for your skin. The humidity and heat help to remove impurities, toxins, and environmental pollution, including stressors.
Saunas are ideal for oily, greasy skin whereas steam rooms will be better for dry skin. However, patches of dry skin may exacerbate vitiligo symptoms.
Regardless, the effect of a sauna can warm your bones in the dead of winter while providing a means for proper blood circulation. This, in turn, allows efficient cell turnover and dispelling gunk at a cellular level. All this contributes to even skin tone that fights signs of aging and stress.
Will Using Sauna & Steam Rooms Cure or Worsen Vitiligo?
Because vitiligo is an autoimmune disorder, saunas and steam rooms may create more problems with skin becoming splotchy white. This will depend on how severe the condition is and how far it has progressed. For extreme cases, speak with a skincare professional before attempting to go into a sauna or steam room.
Other than that exception, saunas and steam rooms shouldn’t affect your skin’s pigmentation. They should neither darken nor lighten it while still being able to avoid worsening skin conditions like vitiligo.
However, you should be careful how long you spend in one of these environments and pay attention to the appearance of your skin.
The moment you notice anything amiss or see your vitiligo worsening, you should get out as soon as possible and rinse yourself off well. Continue observing and if the problem progresses, call your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Can You Use Infrared Sauna if You Have Vitiligo?
Infrared saunas can be the best thing for those suffering from vitiligo, even in some of the more severe cases. While studies are still in their infancy, there is much promise in showing how visible red light has the potential to stimulate melanin development.
Per the Clinical Trials site offered by the US government, this means you could potentially re-pigment the skin via an infrared sauna. However, it’s important to understand that more studies must take place before there can be any certainty.
But, like any other sauna, people with vitiligo should exercise caution. Because an infrared sauna does have the capacity to dry out your skin, it could make your condition worse if the light overexposes the skin. So, it will be a delicate balance of time versus an effective period for exposure.
Tips to Protect Your Skin
As mentioned already, it’s advisable to speak with a healthcare professional prior to going into a sauna or steam room when you have vitiligo. However, there are some tips you should follow to protect your skin before, during, and after a session.
Consider the suggestions below and devise a plan of action that works best for you:
1. Rinse or Shower
Always do an initial rinse or a quick shower with a soap designed for vitiligo. This will remove excess sweat, waxy residues, and other surface debris from your skin. Leaving these on prior to entering a sauna or steam room could spell disaster for your condition.
2. Apply a Protective Oil
Many skin oils on the market specifically designed for vitiligo provide excellent protection for the skin before entering a sauna or steam room. Of course, you should base what you use on the current season along with the needs of your skin type.
For instance, if you have very dry skin and it’s wintertime, a nice light coat of coconut oil may do the trick. But, if it’s summer and you’re oily, then you may want to go with something like grape seed oil to keep down sebum production and prevent your pores from clogging.
3. Stay Only for a Brief Period
Those who suffer from vitiligo shouldn’t stay under the heat of a sauna or steam room for more than 30 minutes per session. You want to stay in long enough to reap the benefits but not so long that you aggravate your condition. On average, most people can handle about 15 minutes with a fair amount of confidence.
4. Thoroughly Wash Afterwards
Even if you start with a shower, you should also end with one. This will remove any sweat accumulated on your skin and remove the protective oil you applied earlier. The idea here is to keep your skin free and clear to encourage as much re-pigmentation as possible.
5. Apply Creams & Treatments
If you have any prescription creams, treatments, or other applications, put those on when you’ve finished with your post-session shower. To ensure your treatments take effect while gleaning the benefits from your sauna or steam room experience, these will be essential.
6. Monitor Changes in Your Skin
For the next 12 to 24 hours, make sure you periodically monitor your skin for changes. Check to see if your vitiligo hasn’t worsened while inspecting for any amount of re-pigmentation. If you notice your condition becoming worse after a session in a sauna or steam room, contact your doctor immediately.
While most cases of vitiligo shouldn’t experience any problems using a sauna or steam room, you still must be very careful. But, if you take all the necessary precautions and follow the guidance above, you should be able to have healthy, glowing skin that appears youthful, beautiful, and free of impurities.
(Featured image by Kreshonna Keane from Canva Photos)