Infrared saunas use a form of light to warm the body, which may ease pain. Some people with psoriasis also report that infrared saunas reduce their symptoms, but few studies have investigated this.

Phototherapy, which uses light to treat various conditions, can help ease symptoms of psoriasis. However, phototherapy uses UV light — the opposite end of the light spectrum to infrared.

Some manufacturers of infrared saunas claim their products promote skin health. Anecdotal reports from some people also agree. However, there is currently not enough scientific evidence to support or refute these claims. Therefore, infrared saunas remain a complementary therapy.

Read on to learn more about infrared saunas for psoriasis, including possible benefits, risks, and considerations.

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It is unclear if infrared light significantly helps with psoriasis. Although many people report benefits, few studies have investigated its effects, and the ones that have often involve a low number of participants.

For example, a small 2012 study of 20 people with psoriasis compared infrared to blue light. Researchers saw improvements in symptoms after both types of light therapy, though blue light offered more relief from redness.

A 2018 clinical review suggests that infrared wavelength may alter gene expression. This could potentially reduce the inflammatory autoimmune processes that cause psoriasis plaques, but more research is necessary to confirm this.

Unlike traditional saunas, which use a furnace to produce dry heat, infrared saunas create heat using infrared light. Infrared is a type of relatively low energy light that can penetrate the skin.

Scientific research has not directly tested the benefits of infrared saunas for psoriasis, so it is unclear what the benefits are for this specific condition. However, there is research suggesting that infrared light has more general skin benefits.

For example, an older 2016 review notes evidence that near-infrared (NIR) light can promote wound healing and reduce inflammation. Low intensity NIR may also have pain-relieving effects. Any of these benefits could potentially help a person with psoriasis.

However, the evidence supporting the use of infrared saunas as a treatment for psoriasis is anecdotal. Some say these saunas improve symptoms or offer greater benefits than traditional UV light therapy. Others use a combination of infrared light and UV light therapies.

While there is insufficient evidence to support these claims, there is also no scientific evidence undermining them.

Saunas pose some risks, primarily due to the heat they generate. For example, a person could overheat or become dehydrated if they stay too long inside a sauna.

People can avoid these effects by staying hydrated and by following the manufacturer’s instructions for how long and how frequently to use the infrared sauna.

It is worth noting that scientists are still learning about the effects of different types of infrared radiation on health. There may be risks to the prolonged use of infrared saunas that experts do not yet know.

For example, some studies have found links between high levels of infrared radiation and skin cancer. A 2020 study notes that it may contribute to skin aging. More research on the level of infrared that saunas typically emit is necessary to fully understand the benefits and risks.

As so little scientific evidence has assessed infrared saunas for psoriasis, there are no scientific recommendations for choosing one. Instead, a person can focus on safety, customer service, and quality.

If a person wants to buy an infrared sauna, they should look for:

  • a sauna that emits only infrared light within a certain range of wavelengths
  • temperature control to ensure the sauna cannot become too hot
  • an easy-to-use entrance and exit
  • a help button should the person become dizzy or sick
  • positive and credible online reviews
  • good customer service and assistance with installation, if necessary

Before purchasing, people should also discuss any plans to try an infrared sauna with a dermatologist who has experience in treating psoriasis.

As with infrared saunas, there is limited research on the potential value of other types of saunas for psoriasis.

An older 1983 study involving 213 males with psoriasis found that a traditional sauna had neither a positive nor negative effect on symptoms.

Infrared saunas are a complementary treatment for psoriasis. No large-scale study has proven that they reduce symptoms, but some people anecdotally report that they help. There is also some evidence that certain types of infrared light, such as NIR, may help reduce pain and inflammation and promote skin healing.

Even if infrared saunas are beneficial, people with psoriasis may need a comprehensive treatment plan to experience improvements in their condition. It is important for people to consult a dermatologist with experience in treating psoriasis and to discuss infrared light therapy with them before trying it.