Should You Avoid the Steam Room?

Have you been planning to get a sauna or a steam room for yourself? If yes, then you have come to the right place. Steam rooms aren’t a new concept – they are as old as the Roman civilization. 

Steam rooms are often combined with baths to make the experience even better. Water is heated so that the water turns into steam, which is then pumped into the steam room. 

The advantages include everything from better internal health to glowing skin, however not everybody gets the same benefits as using the steam room is a very individual process

Reasons to avoid the Steam Room

Steam rooms can be beneficial for many people. But unfortunately others may find it detrimental. Below are some of the issues we found while researching steam rooms and their benefits 

Heating Techniques and Temperature

The steam in steam rooms is created by artificially heating water to turn it into steam. This wasn’t the case in the steam rooms or hot baths that were used in ancient times. Even today, Japan has common steam baths, but they are often linked to natural hot springs. 

This wouldn’t be the same when a steam room is installed at your home. Either fuel or electricity will be used to artificially heat the water, which lacks the natural properties of the original concept of healing with steam. 

The temperature a steam room reaches is also lower than other types of sauna.  It generally only reaches a maximum of 120F (49C).  It’s not possible to heat the steam hot enough because to do so would scald and burn your skin.  This means that you need to spend longer in the steam room to get any sort of benefit and this means the next two issues become more prominent. 

Excessive Humidity 

Steam rooms may have a humidity of up to 100%, which is high – as high as it can get in fact!. This is also the reason for which the advised duration for using a steam room is 10-15 minutes.  Also most steam rooms – unless you’ve built it yourself – use unfiltered tap water.  Now tap water may be fine to drink as any bacteria or contaminants are neutralized by the acid in our stomach.  But when you heat the contaminants and inhale them, your body doesn’t have the same level of protection.

Unfiltered tap water may contain contaminants such as Fluorine, Chlorine, Nitrates, Pesticides, as well as various salts and trace heavy metals such as arsenic, radium, aluminum, copper, lead, mercury.  Yes they are in very small quantities but it’s not something you really want to breathe if you can help it.

The use of unfiltered tap water plus excessive humidity present in these rooms can cause two main problems:

Mould growth: One of the problems seen in the case of steam rooms is the growth of mould. This is especially prominent in areas that have a wooden interior. As most steam rooms do not come with adequate ways to blow out the steam, it gets trapped inside the room. This gives rise to mould and other bacteria, which create a sodden smell. Also, cleaning the room becomes a hassle for someone who is busy.  

Breeding ground for germs: If you didn’t know already, germs thrive in humid conditions. So, the excessive humidity present in steam rooms can give rise to a lot more germs. This is especially true for those steam rooms that are used by multiple people. You may not realize it, but fungus present in the room may end up causing fungal infections like athlete’s foot or other problems. 

Note that mould and bacteria growth is more of a problem with stationary or permanent steam rooms, lined with wood and possibly in a shared space.  This isn’t such an issue in a portable steam room since you can easily break down and clean the enclosure after each use and your head sticks out of the top so you’re not inhaling unfiltered water!

The potential health problems may outweigh the benefits

Haven’t we all heard that humidity is good for our body? Isn’t that the whole reason behind using a steam room? However, you will be thrilled to know that too much humidity can actually make your health worse.

Yes, our body benefits from a humid situation, but too much humidity comes with several problems. When you breathe in too much humidity, it can cause problems in the respiratory tract. It is especially harmful to people who deal with allergies and asthma. 

Because of the potential increased level of bacteria – especially in public steam rooms – bacteria can easily travel inside your body with the help of steam, giving rise to serious health issues.

Skin problems can also be an issue with steam rooms. We have already talked about the bacterial and fungal infections that can be caused by high humidity. However, other problems are also seen in people like dry skin and boils. Some may even face burning or bruises on their skin due to the high temperature of their skin. 

You might not know these, but some people are not advised to get into a steam room. These include: 

● Pregnant women 

● People with cardiovascular issues

● People with severe skin conditions 

● People who are on antibiotics 

● People who use stimulants or alcohol 

● People who have high or low blood pressure 

● People who have epilepsy or seizure 

What are the alternatives? 

Yes, the market does have alternatives. It includes technologies like Far-infrared Sauna that gives out a dry heat and doesn’t require you to sit in a humid enclosed area.  It also gets much hotter than a steam room which means you can be exposed for a shorter period of time.

As it doesn’t heat the room using steam, the traditional sauna is also considered a safer alternative. However as always, it is always advisable to talk with a health professional before getting any particular health device for your home. 

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