Saunas most often employ infrared heaters comprising of ceramic panels or tubes that produce infrared heat radiation for heating the skin. As no ultraviolet rays are created, the arrangement is safer than sunbathing.
However, infrared radiations present their own risks in saunas when heat is too severe. People patronizing saunas should know the likely hazards and even those using alternate infrared heating arrangements should not overlook some of the common health problems relating to extended exposures.
A very frequent trouble connected with infrared heat is plain burning. Burning occurs when the uppermost layers of skin get too heated due to infrared radiation. Though it does not damage the cell like ultraviolet rays do, it still leads to having surface burns on the skin which may aggravate if exposed for too long. It is unlikely for anyone to remain in an infrared sauna for a time long enough for it to happen but for their getting unconscious.
Infrared heat causes an increased flow of blood to skin which may cause lowering of blood pressure to other parts of the body. This could result to having a headache or even faintness. Elderly people or those already having symptoms of blood pressure should be extra careful.
The eyes are particularly susceptible to infrared heat, and long-drawn-out exposure may damage the eyes and affect vision. Far-infrared rays may result to corneal burns, and even regular exposure could cause some irritation.
Though normally the users may not expose themselves for too long to burn their skin, frequent exposure to infrared rays could cause not so serious damage to the skin and skin cells could crack to liberate pigments causing blotchiness. Such a condition was earlier related to legs when people would spend extended hours facing natural fireplace.
We know that on getting heated up, skin naturally releases sweat to maintain its natural temperature. People often use sauna for this purpose as it helps getting rid of toxins, but in the process body also loses water. This could cause dehydration, especially to those with low water content in the body.
Overheating here refers to the general problems relating to excessive exposure to heat. Some people might experience heat exhaustion, a state connected to dehydration while others could be affected by a heat stroke that might prove to be fatal.