Can You Use Infrared Sauna While on Antibiotics? (What Doctors Say)

Infrared saunas use heat to facilitate the body’s healing process, so you may be inclined to head in for a session whenever you start feeling ill but is that always a good idea? Is it a good idea to visit a sauna when on antibiotics?

You can use an infrared sauna while taking antibiotics, although you should consult with your doctor before doing so. Infrared sauna use can complement a round of antibiotics by increasing circulation, reducing inflammation, and raising your core body temperature. Each of these effects can increase the speed and effectiveness of the antibiotics.

Continue reading to find out if infrared saunas can be used while on antibiotics and how the treatments work together.

What do doctors say about using the sauna on antibiotics?

If you’ve been prescribed antibiotics for an infection, you probably also received a list of do’s and don’ts from your medical provider. Where does a relaxing sauna visit fall on this list?

Overall, doctors seem to encourage it.

Through deeply penetrating heat, infrared saunas can hasten the intended effects of antibiotics, which are typically prescribed to cure bacterial infections. Slightly raising the body’s core temperature makes it difficult for bacteria to grow, meaning that the treatment combination of infrared sauna and antibiotics will clear the body of infection more quickly than the antibiotic alone.

In a study on Lyme disease, the combination of antibiotics and a body temperature of 100°F made the bacteria vulnerable enough to stop reproducing. 

The potential effects of using an infrared sauna while taking antibiotics

Antibiotics are excellent for helping rid your body of a bacterial infection, but they’re not without their side effects.

When taking antibiotics, you should expect to experience the following side effects:

  • Pain reduction and relaxation
  • Detox from bacterial die-off
  • Increased sensitivity to the sun 

While side effect usually means something bad (especially in a medical context), it’s obvious this isn’t always the case. Let’s take a look at the side effects of taking antibiotics in more detail.

Pain reduction and relaxation

A side effect of antibiotics that no one will sneer at is pain reduction and overall relaxation.

Infrared saunas reduce inflammation and take the edge off of stiff joints that result from some infections. They also promote relaxation, improving overall wellness and staving off the sickness blues.

Infrared saunas increase circulation in the body when blood vessels widen, and blood flow improves. This brings added more oxygen to tender places which can relieve muscle soreness.

In a study that measured pain behavior, those who used thermal therapy could return to work at a higher rate than those who didn’t. 

Detoxification from bacterial die-off

Shortly after taking an antibiotic, some patients might experience the Herxheimer reaction.

This biological response occurs when the body is ridding itself of harmful bacterial buildup and it can cause unpleasant flu-like symptoms. Bacteria are intolerant to heat, meaning that the detoxification effects of a standard sauna session are likely to be intensified when on antibiotics.

Just 20 minutes of infrared sauna use 4-5 times a week and in combination with antibiotics can lead to quicker recovery from bacterial die-off symptoms. It’s also suggested that infrared sauna use as soon as symptoms begin can help fend off an impending infection.

Increased sensitivity to light

While the previous two side effects of antibiotics are fairly unequivocal wins, the photosensitivity often caused by antibiotics is less ideal.

Not everyone will experience this reaction, but if taking antibiotics while using infrared saunas, it’s good to be aware that there might be a higher risk of sunburns and take precautions. If there’s a known risk of a poor reaction to a medication, it’s best to check with a physician before enjoying the sauna. 

Antibiotics that are more likely to lead to this sensitivity are ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, levofloxacin, ofloxacin, tetracycline, and trimethoprim.

Can you use an infrared sauna when sick?

Infrared saunas can help battle infections and get you through tough times. 

Your body’s temperature increase while using an infrared sauna is similar to an induced fever, and it has the same positive benefits for the body. Fevers make it harder for infections to survive and multiply because the environment isn’t conducive. Infrared saunas also minimize symptoms like congestion and fatigue, leading to quicker recovery. 

Many people use saunas to manage symptoms of sickness with great success.

This video discusses how infrared saunas can help promote good health.

Can infrared sauna boost the immune system?

White standard saunas heat the air around a person in an enclosure, infrared saunas heat a person directly with infrared light lamps. This deeper tissue warming serves as a jolt to both the innate and adaptive immune systems.

By increasing the body’s internal temperature, infrared saunas send energy to the body’s cells in the form of heat shock proteins. Heat shock proteins temporarily stress the body and act as a signal that stimulates white blood cells. Infrared saunas trigger a response that boosts the immune system and produces antibodies against bacteria. 

With all of those infection-fighting cells mobilized by heat, the body is on a fast track to recuperation.

Is an infrared sauna good for bacterial infection?

Infrared saunas are a therapeutic option to treat bacterial infections, especially in combination with prescribed antibiotics. 

The same positive effects are achieved when the body is put into a state that mimics a fever. This forced hyperthermia strengthens the body’s immune system in the face of infections. But not only does it create a quick initial response – the immune system will also imprint the bacteria in its memory in case it creeps in again later on. 

Infrared light has a proven ability to kill even antibiotic-resistant bacteria. 

If you already have a fever, wait until it passes before using sauna therapy, or there is a risk of overheating.

Can bacteria grow in infrared saunas?

Bacteria growth is always possible, but infrared saunas have far less incidence of bacterial growth. 

Traditional saunas use steam to warm the air, resulting in high humidity, which creates the perfect, moist environment for bacteria to grow. Infrared saunas use only light to heat only the body. Dry air and no residual wetness mean less opportunity for bacteria and mold to thrive.  

Proper care of any sauna is important to mitigate bacteria, but reducing ambient moisture gives you a fresher starting ground. 

Learn more about how to clean your sauna.

Is an infrared sauna good for respiratory infection?

Infrared dry saunas have the same positive effect on respiratory infections as they do on any infection.

While infrared saunas don’t have the same benefits as a steam sauna would on respiratory infections, the heat from infrared light increases blood flow in the body.

Sauna use has even been shown to enhance lung capacity and open the airways, which aids those suffering from symptoms of respiratory infections like cough or labored breathing. 

A standard sauna might offer stronger results, but infrared saunas won’t hurt anyone with a respiratory illness so long as they don’t have other conditions.