How an Infrared Sauna Can Help with Sunburns

Medically reviewed by Dr. Justin Ternes
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Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors; the great temperatures and sunshine tend to bring people outdoors more than the cold season. But it’s easy to overdue it after being indoors during the winter and come back from that first hike or lake weekend with a bad sunburn. Once you have that sunburn though, should you avoid the sauna? Could it actually help? 

Infrared saunas can help with sunburn because they heat your body up enough to trigger a full thermoregulation response, increasing circulation and blood flow to the surface of your skin. More red blood cells are brought to your skin, promoting faster sunburn healing. 

It’s perfectly fine to visit an infrared sauna with sunburn. The increased blood flow and circulation to your skin will promote faster healing. If you heal faster, you have less chance of developing an infection, and you don’t have to deal with the painful sunburn sting for as long. If you visit the sauna with sunburn, make sure to keep your wounds clean to further promote proper healing. This article covers how sunburn happens and how saunas can help sunburns heal.

How Saunas Can Help Your Sunburn Heal

Empty Classic Wooden Infrared Sauna

As we already discussed in our guide on infrared and traditional saunas, the heat from infrared saunas activates your body’s thermoregulation response. Essentially, what your body is trying to do is keep itself at a stable core temperature of 98.6°F.

In this attempt to keep your body temperature stable, the body deploys several different tactics around temperature management and blood flow. You will start to sweat, your heart will beat faster, your circulation will increase, and your circulatory system will provide more blood to your skin. You will also take more breaths, and this will increase your oxygen levels in your blood. 

The heat and extra oxygen-rich blood flow to your skin will help the sunburn heal faster. Additionally, the heat from the sauna reduces swelling. If your sunburns are swollen, the swollen tissue can compress tiny blood capillaries preventing enough blood from getting to the wound.

Since infrared saunas heat your skin and tissues at least one inch deep directly, they should be a more effective remedy to your sunburn than traditional saunas and steam rooms. Saunas also promote better skin health too.

The heat opens up your pores, unclogging them and providing a better balance of your skin’s natural oils. If you are visiting a sauna with sunburn, you will likely be sweating a lot. So be sure to hydrate well and reapply any sunburn creams like Sunburnt’s Ultra Hydrating Aloe Vera (on Amazon) that you might be using. You’ll want to reapply any sunburn ointments or creams only after you’ve fully dried off and returned to a normal core body temperature and aren’t sweating anymore.

What Causes a Sunburn

A Man's back with reddened itchy skin after sunburn

Sunburns are only ever caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. UV rays hitting your skin cause it to produce melanin. Repeated sun exposure will increase the amount of melanin in your skin, darkening it, which is known as a suntan. Melanin is produced by your body to block out the harmful rays of the sun. However, it can only block so much.

If your skin is hit with UV light for too long, then it will break down, and you will become sunburnt. Fortunately, infrared saunas only produce infrared rays and not UV, so it is impossible to get sunburn from using an infrared sauna.

In fact, no types of saunas produce UV light. Traditional saunas, steam rooms, and other variations all rely on either infrared heat or direct air heat, so there are no UV rays in play at all when it comes to saunas. However, you can get burns from touching hot things in saunas, just not sunburns, so they’re not entirely risk-free.

Avoid touching the steam pump in steam saunas, grabbing the hot sauna rocks in traditional saunas, and handling the stove or electric heater. Also, don’t wear metal jewelry in saunas, as they can get hot enough to burn your skin. With that said, infrared saunas can actually help heal your sunburn by promoting blood flow and reducing swelling. 

When a Sauna Might Not be Good for Your Sunburn

In general terms, sauna sessions can help mend most sunburns and are a good idea. However, if you have a terrible sunburn, it might not be such a great idea to visit a sauna. If you have an excruciatingly painful sunburn and your skin starts to hurt more with changes in temperature, you should not visit a sauna. 

The sauna is good for your body and could help your sunburn, but it may be best to leave if it causes you any pain. If you use a sauna blanket like the Higher Dose, for instance, that may be especially uncomfortable with a sunburn because of the proximity to the hot surface to your skin.


You may have been aware of saunas many fantastic health benefits like better sleep, improved relaxation and mental health, better muscle recovery, improved cardiac function, and preventative benefits of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Now you know that saunas can also promote faster healing of painful sunburns. If you are sunburnt – pop into a sauna for speedier recovery and relief!

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