This magnificent human invention is a room which in contrast to steam rooms, provides dry heat. Some people believe that saunas are helpful for people with acne or acne prone skin. Let’s see if this is valid.
How does it work?
Saunas usually have some source of dry heat to increase the temperature of the room up to 185º F (85º C). In some saunas, you can throw water on the source to accelerate the heating process. This can increase humidity, but due to the structure of saunas and their materials (wood) all the extra humidity will be absorbed or channeled outside.
This dry heat among others causes excessive sweating and increased blood circulation. Both of them are wonderful as far as acne is concerned, but they are also great for our overall well-being.
Through sweating our bodies push out dangerous toxins which undermine our health and our ability to deal with acne bacteria. There is also evidence that saunas can offer benefits to multiple diseases, including heart-related ones because of its effects on the blood circulation.
The theory suggests that a sauna session acts similarly to an exercise session for the heart and the vessels. In general, it is believed that sauna can improve circulation, ease joint pains and strengthen the immune system and much more. I can’t confirm any of those claims but one thing sauna certainly does, is to promote relaxation, I can verify this by my own experience.
Sauna and Acne
When you enter the sauna one of the first things to happen is an increase in your heart rate and a change in your blood pressure all leading to increased blood circulation. This means that your skin cells can accelerate at whatever they do.
Increased circulation will help nourish your skin and get rid of free radicals and by-products of cellular function. It will also keep it well oxygenated. All these help your skin operate at optimum levels, repair damage faster and combat acne bacteria.
The next thing will happen while you are in the sauna room is that your pores will open and you will start to sweat. This is an amazing combination because your open pores and the sweating will help you unclog your pores and rinse bacteria altogether. The sweat also acts as a light exfoliating agent which can be great if you are on the end of your healing and you want to start fading your scars.
As far as the acne is concerned, sauna will give you a small detox boost and will help you unclog your pores. The light exfoliation will help you fade minor scars and the stress relief you feel will strengthen your immune system. Doing so it will protect you from acne bacteria and other diseases.
Don’t expect miracles to happen just because you’ve got into the sauna room. Data suggest that through sweating you can push out only a small fraction of the toxins you have in your body, roughly 1~3%. Even though this 1% can be of great help and you can use it as a leverage it is very important that you keep yourself healthy and you don’t rely on saunas as a detox mechanism.
In order to detoxify the rest 99% of toxins your digestive tract, your kidneys and your liver must be working as good as possible. There is no point in drinking tons of alcohol and then visiting the sauna to detox. If you want to detox, don’t drink alcohol and visit the sauna with a friend to chill, relax and maybe help your body get rid of some toxins as well.
Before you become a Sauna lover keep in mind a few things.
- Don’t get into a sauna in any case if you have been drinking alcohol. This can cause you to overheat because alcohol can impair the sweating mechanisms of your body.
- This is obvious but I have to point it out just in case. Cosmetics and makeup is a no-go if you are heading for a Sauna sessions. In case you do want to try it out, check this page to share your story.
- Watch Out for dehydration. Since you sweat a lot in the sauna room, you have to make sure that you are hydrated enough before you go in. Also if you are like many people who use the sauna at the gym you are in double risk of dehydration. Exercise causes dehydration and after each workout, your fatigued muscles are probably dehydrated too. Visiting the sauna without drinking a sufficient amount of water, will harm your muscles and your skin.
- According to a study done in 30 boys, unwashed sweat is not a cause of further breakouts. I suggest this routine:
- Immediately after you get out of the Sauna room, go for a Shower.
- Start the shower with no soap and warm water.
- After you have washed your face and body with lots of water then cool it down slowly to a lower temperature so your skin pores can close.
- Now use soap to further clean yourself.
- Watch out for Respiratory infections. Because of environment and materials used in sauna rooms, it is possible that viruses and other micro-organisms survive and accumulate. In some cases, they can cause respiratory viral infections. What to do? Be sure the sauna is clean and if you use a public sauna make sure they clean it often and they clean it well.
It seems that sauna is more than a pleasant activity, it also has acne benefits. If you too want a small boost at healing your acne, then a sauna session with a friend after each workout can be of great help. Just make sure you stay hydrated and the sauna is clean.
- A Single-Blinded, Randomized Pilot Study to Evaluate the Effect of Exercise-Induced Sweat on Truncal Acne (doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1470.2007.00604.x)