How Using Your Infrared Sauna Helps with Burns
It sounds counterintuitive to use heat from an infrared sauna in treating cases of burns. Burns may be caused by touching a hot surface, friction, radiation, cold, chemicals, or by ultraviolet radiation after too much time spent outdoors. Typically, the first thing we want when experiencing a burn is fast, cool relief (think aloes, cool air, water, etc.), not additional heat.
But infrared sauna users and researchers are finding that the healthy, radiant heat produced by infrared saunas can be a great help in alleviating the pain associated with the burn, as well as promote healing to the affected tissues.
Understanding the Nature of Skin and Tissue Burns
While most types of burns to the skin or sub-dermal tissues are caused by hot liquids, surfaces, or a fire, burns can also present themselves through contact with electricity, radiation, chemicals, excess friction, and even prolonged contact with a cold surface.
- First-degree burns — Thanks to the nervous system’s quick response to burning sensations, most burns only affect the “superficial” layers of the skin. These types of burns are known as “first-degree burns.” These types of burns are usually accompanied by a reddening of the skin, but typically do not lead to blistering or extensive pain. Superficial burns will typically heal without medical intervention within several days. Although, infrared sauna use can hasten the recovery time by promoting blood flow to the surface of the skin while also removing waste byproducts that could lead to infection.
- Second-degree burns — Second-degree burns occur when the injury goes beyond the superficial layer of the skin. In this type of burn, blistering of the skin is likely to occur and pain is often present even while the burn-sufferer is at rest. It may take up to eight months for the skin to heal, and scars may appear as part of the healing process. Infrared sauna use can help the skin to heal faster by speeding nutrient delivery to the sub-dermal areas of the skin. Healing with infrared sauna use can also limit scarring by giving new skin the nutrients it needs to promote proper healing and regeneration.
- Third-degree burns — In a third-degree burn, the full thickness (all layers) of the skin is affected. Typically, this type of burn will not heal on its own without medical intervention. While no pain may be present, the burned skin will stiff, and the patient will naturally seek to limit movement of the affected area.
Can an Infrared Sauna Really Help with Third-Degree Burns?
In the January 2014 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Lasers in Medical Science, researchers posed the question of whether low-level light therapy, a form of far-infrared light therapy, could help speed the healing of those with third-degree burns. With a control group in place, the researchers found that “laser irradiation [of the infrared variety] resulted in reduction in the inflammatory process and improved collagen deposition, thereby ameliorating (improving) the healing of third-degree burns.”
Achieving Sunburn Relief with an Infrared Sauna
After an unexpectedly long day at the beach, or intense tanning session, the last thing you likely want to do is feel more heat on your skin. But, according to the 9th edition of Clayton’s Electrotherapy, far-infrared radiation (such as the light spectrum found in infrared saunas) is the “only antidote to excessive ultraviolet radiation.” Not only does infrared sauna use encourage healing but many users experience instant relief through increased blood flow to the sunburnt areas of the skin.
How Infrared Saunas Promote Healing of Burns to the Skin
When using a far-infrared sauna, blood flow to the skin can increase to as much as 50-70% of cardiac output. When compared to the 5-10% cardiac output to the skin without infrared sauna use, it becomes readily apparent of how an infrared sauna can be used to treat burns from a hot, cold, chemical, electrical, or ultraviolet source. While sitting in an infrared sauna, blood vessels under the skin’s surface expand to accommodate increased blood flow in a process called “vasodilation.” The increased blood flow carries more nutrients throughout the body, including surface tissues. When these nutrients rich the skin, cellular activity and cell growth are achieved. These factors promote skin and tissue healing while also nourishing the skin.
With infrared, radiant heat, infrared saunas have been shown to reduce the painful sensations that occur in second- and third-degree burns, where pain originates from nerve and peripheral nerve endings. The radiant heat from your infrared sauna also increases endorphins (the brain’s natural pain-killer), bringing much-needed psychological relief to burn victims.
In 2015 alone, more than 67 million patients were admitted to hospitals due to burns. At Good Health Saunas, we’re doing our part in promoting natural healing for burn victims by promoting infrared sauna use as a valid, beneficial treatment for burn victims. If you or someone you know has experienced a severe burn, we invite you to look into using an infrared sauna to decrease pain, quicken the healing process, and diminish the likelihood of scar tissue from forming.