Health

Everything You Need to Know About Steam Therapy

Steam rooms have been used for centuries for numerous medicinal and beauty purposes. First made popular by ancient Greeks and Romans, they are still used today as alternative therapies to promote healing and improve physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Similar to saunas, steam rooms are meant to induce sweating, which provides numerous health benefits including body detoxification, pain relief, better blood circulation, etc. Some people use steam rooms to cure different ailments, while some others use them just to relax their body and mind.

Ever Wondered What the Difference is Between a Sauna and a Steam Room?

steam room

The greatest difference between the sauna and the steam room is the humidity of the air. Steam rooms use moist heat, while saunas provide dry heat.

The humidity in the sauna ranges from 5 to 30 percent, while steam rooms generally rely on 100 percent humidity.

The sauna room is usually heated with a wood stove or an electric heater, which warms up the stones that consequently irradiate dry heat throughout the room. Water can sometimes be poured over hot stones to create steam and temporarily increase humidity. Sauna walls and benches are made of wood, which allows people to sit on them and touch them, as they do not heat up like rocks.

Steam rooms, by contrast, do not use a heater. The temperature and the humidity of the air are achieved by pumping steam into the room, which comes from a large water-filled generator that produces water vapor at high levels of humidity.

The steam room is usually lined in ceramic tile, which has the ability to contain moisture, and it has a sloping ceiling to prevent condensed steam from dripping onto the occupants.

The other great difference between the sauna and the steam room is that saunas are kept at much higher temperatures than steam rooms.

The temperature in the sauna can range between 160 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit, while the steam rooms are generally kept between 110 to 114 degrees Fahrenheit. Higher temperatures in the steam would cause dangerous skin burns.

Although steam rooms are not as hot as saunas, the high level of humidity makes them seem a lot warmer.

Steam Therapy Health Benefits

If used properly, steam rooms can have numerous positive effects on your body and mind, as well as help alleviate a number of illnesses.

Listed below are some of the most important therapeutic benefits that a steam rooms bath can provide.

  • Promotes relaxation and improves sleep

Stress is a part of our daily life and it can lead to nervousness, muscle tension, high blood pressure, headaches, and cardiovascular problems.

Steam rooms can relieve stress, calm tense nerves and relax muscles. They are usually small and they provide a calming atmosphere for the body and mind.

Steam rooms can also be beneficial for people who have sleeping problems. If done two hours before going to sleep and for no longer than 20 minutes, a steam treatment can help with insomnia and encourage a good night’s sleep. The heat and the steam can relieve tight muscles and allow your body to relax and fall asleep more easily.

But steam can also provide significant pain relief to those who suffer from tension headaches. It can de-stress and promote a feeling of relaxation, while helping headaches.

  • Relieves muscle stiffness and pain

The heat of the steam can help relax tight, sore muscles.

The hot steam dilates blood vessels, improves circulation and increases blood flow to the muscles. This allows oxygen and nutrients to reach the areas where they are needed, which in turn helps loosen tight muscles and reduce pain.

The steam therapy can also help get rid of the lactic acid build-up in your muscles and thereby reduce soreness.

Steam rooms are often used after intense workouts to help relax tired and painful muscles. According to a 2001 article in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 20 minutes of moist heat is significantly more effective than 30 seconds of static stretching.

  • Reduces rheumatoid arthritis pain

The moist heat of a steam room is a natural pain reliever. It penetrates tendons and joints and reduces inflammation that causes pain.

By reducing the build-up of lactic acid, steam also helps reduce friction in your joints, making it easier for your body to move.

  • Detoxifies the body and improves the immune system

Steam rooms can help expel toxins and waste products that have built up in the body due to stress, bad eating habits, poor digestion, and other external factors.

Hot steam induces a state of hypothermia in the body, which is a very high fever that is usually created artificially for therapeutic purposes. When your body reaches the ambient temperature of the steam room, or 101 degrees Fahrenheit, it has an artificial fever. Viruses, bacteria, and other toxins accumulated in your body can not survive at such high temperatures.

The heat of the steam opens up approximately 2.6 million sweat glands located under your skin, which allows you to flush out 30 percent of bodily waste through perspiration, during a single steam room session.

Whether naturally or artificially induced, fevers also encourage your body to produce more white blood cells, which have the ability to fight infections by attacking and destroying harmful organisms like bacteria and viruses. They are the most important part of your immune system.

Steam therapy is therefore a highly effective way to cleanse your body and increase your immunity naturally and without invasive treatments.

  • Improves breathing and relieves colds and flues

Steam can provide immediate relief from cold symptoms. It can moisten a sore throat, loosen phlegm in the lungs and dissolve mucous in the nose.

Steam inhalation improves the respiratory system and it is very useful for people suffering from asthma, allergies, sinusitis, and bronchitis.

Benefits of Steam Therapy for Skin and Hair

relaxing hot sauna

Apart from having many positive health effects, steam therapy can also greatly benefit your skin and hair.

  • Steam rejuvenates your skin and improves its texture and tone

Improving your skin’s health is another purpose of steam rooms. Steam therapy is a natural alternative to expensive chemical treatments and it can be useful for several skin conditions.

Steam opens up your pores, allows toxins to be flushed out, and thereby deeply cleanses your skin. It washes out deep dirt and impurities and prevents the appearance of acne and pimples.

The moist heat also stimulates blood circulation to the skin surface, removes dead skin cells, and hydrates the pores. This adds shine and glow to your skin, making it look younger, softer, and healthier.

  • Steam promotes healthy hair and scalp

Steam opens up clogged pores and deeply cleanses and hydrates the scalp, while promoting healthy hair growth.

It increases blood flow to the scalp, improves hair elasticity, and helps control the sebum production.

Steam also helps open the hair cuticle, allowing conditioners and moisturizing products to deeply penetrate the shaft of your hair strands.

How to Use a Steam Room Properly

1. Do not eat for an hour or two before entering a steam room as the heat of the steam could interfere with your digestion.

2. Take a warm shower before steam bathing.

3. Drink at least 1 glass of water prior using the steam room and continue drinking plenty of water during the session.

4. Average steam room sessions last from 15 to 20 minutes. If you are a first time user, start slowly with only a few minutes, than gradually build longer sessions.

5. If you start feeling dizzy, nauseous, weak or uncomfortable for any other reason, exit the steam room immediately.

6. After a steam session of 15 to 20 minutes, you should get out of the room and take a cool shower to decrease your internal temperature and allow your body to return to a normal state. Then you can go back in. Do not repeat steam sessions more than 3 times.

How to Turn Your Bathroom Into a Steam Room

Young pretty woman take bubble bath

Creating the effect of a steam room in your own bathroom is an inexpensive and easy way to enjoy spa-like treatments in the comfort of your home. Here’s how to do it.

1. Use a small heater to warm up your bathroom before turning on the water. Turn it off after 15 minutes and remove it from the bathroom. This will help you create more steam in the room.

If you have a humidifier, use it. It is another good way to steam up your bathroom more easily!

2. Use old towels or a thick masking tape to seal up gaps around the window and door frame. Covering up cracks and holes will trap the moisture inside the bathroom and prevent the steam from escaping.

3. Make sure that you have gathered all you need. Once you have started the steam session, you shouldn’t open the door any more.

4. Pour a few drops of your favorite essential oil in a small bowl with boiling water and place it not far away from the shower. The oil will merge with steam and provide a pleasant and therapeutic effect.

5. Turn your shower to the hottest temperature and take your clothes off. Do not get in the shower or you will burn your skin! Find a comfortable seat in the bathroom and use a towel to sit on it.

6. Allow the steam to penetrate your skin and open up your pores. While steaming you can use an antioxidant face and body scrub and apply a deep conditioning mask to your hair. Or you may simply close your eyes and relax.

7. If the temperature becomes excessively high, immediately turn off the hot water and drink plenty of water to avoid dizziness.

8. You shouldn’t steam for more than 15 to 20 minutes. Once you are finished, take a cool shower to bring your body temperature back to normal. After this reinvigorating rinse, apply a good moisturizer to additionally hydrate and nourish your skin.

Steam Therapy – Warnings and Safety Consideration

Steam rooms can provide different health benefits and improve your overall well-being, but there are some safety issues that you must take into consideration.

1. Their humidity level should be at 100 percent and they should not exceed the temperature of 114 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. You should limit your time to 20 minutes and make sure to drink plenty of water. Prolonged exposure may cause dehydration, heart palpitations, faintness, nausea and overheating, which can be very dangerous.

3. If you start feeling overheated, light-headed, or sleepy, exit the steam room immediately. Drink some water and allow your body to cool down.

4. People with health concerns should consult their doctor before using a steam room for the first time.

5. Pregnant women, as well as elderly and small children should avoid using steam rooms.

6. Steam rooms are not recommended for people with heart palpitations, heart diseases, high or low blood pressure, and diabetes.

7. Steam rooms should not be used after alcohol consumption or after heavy meals.

8. The warm moist air of a steam room makes it an ideal breeding ground for fungus and bacteria, which can cause infections. Always take the following sanitary precautions when using a steam room:

– Avoid entering a steam room with cuts, scratches and open wounds or use a band aid to cover them.

– Wear flip flops and always sit on your towel.

– Avoid going to overcrowded steam rooms as germs can easily be spread by a large number of bathers.

– Use a mild antibacterial body wash after the steam room session.

However, if you keep in mind all of the above mentioned safety tips and take all necessary sanitary precautions, steam rooms can be an excellent way to detoxify your body, improve your immune system and relax your mind in a completely natural way.

Are you tempted to try a steam room at least once? Let us know in the comment section below and don’t forget to share this post with others!

About the author

Jessica

Jessica is a translator who has lived for many years in Asia and South America. She now lives and works in Europe, while preparing her new journeys. She enjoys traveling, meeting new people, exploring different cultures and foods, and being in love.

5 Comments

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  • I am an African American female with natural hair who swims three times a week and the steam room does wonders for my hair! After swimming, I shower and wash my hair then enter the steam room with the conditioner on. As a result, my hair is softer, curlier and moist. The steam room is the reason I joined my fitness center!

  • I can’t believe I only just started using a steam room. the health benefits are amazing. My skin is so much cleaner/clear and more toned and my hair feels great as I also add a deep conditioning treatment when I sit in the steam room , it works really well. : )

  • I have just joined a fitness centre although is not for the 1time I go to the Gym but now after my 2nd born. I feel great and am enjoying every
    minute of it I want to loose some kilos and get back to shape.Every day I finish off with the steam room mornings and after noon’s I am so happy my skin and body feels so great, Every day I cant wait for another session. Thank you for the wonderful advise on steam rooms.

  • Only 3 times and im hooked. Nomia is right, cant wait for tomorrow. And Tanya too, its one of the reasons i joined. Intense workout, steamroom, then shower for me. I would be cautious about “cool shower”. Stick with warm at first, cool it off gradually. No reason to shock the system when the experience is therapy. Besides, warm feels cool after the steamroom. Good day, thx for the article.

  • Hi. Kindly advise how frequent u can use the steam room. Can I have my clothes on during steaming session? Do I need to wrap my hair in towel or can I choose to have free hair during session. Pls advise