Steam Room vs Hot Shower (Differences and Which to Use)

There are many documented benefits to a steam room, but is it possible to recreate the effects at home? What’s really the difference between a steam room and a hot shower?

The difference between a steam room and a hot shower is direct hot water versus ambient steam. Showers are good for cleaning your body, but they can also help you relax, improve sleep and circulation, and help open airways. Steam rooms are also good for relaxation and clearing congestion, but they can also improve circulation and skin health.

Continue reading this article to learn more about the differences between steam rooms versus hot showers, when to use these, and how they can benefit you. 

Is a hot shower as good as a steam room?

On the surface, hot showers and steam rooms have a lot in common. Is a steam room really just a hot shower without the water pounding directly on you? Is it as good as a steam room?

Showers are designed primarily as a quick way to clean your body, not as an oasis of relaxation. Steam rooms are also intended to make you sweat, not to wash it off. While they share some benefits, the two are not really comparable.

Hot showers can harm the skin, causing skin damage and stripping the body of its natural oils. Many people claim that hot showers can provide similar benefits as steam rooms, like loosening phlegm from your lungs and relaxing you. 

Despite both being able to steam up a mirror, they don’t have a lot in common.

Does a hot shower have the same effects as a steam room?

Many people claim that hot showers and steam rooms have some of the same effects, but, realistically, there’s only a bit of overlap.

Hot showers can be relaxing and the steam can help reduce congestion and open airways, but that’s where the similarities end. Steam rooms are also able to improve circulation and skin.

Additionally, hot showers are not as safe as steam rooms, especially for extended use, because they can damage your skin due to extreme heat. 

Comparing steam rooms and hot showers

Steam rooms and hot showers are similar because of the hot steam.

Some people claim that taking a hot shower can feel similar to using a steam room, making their benefits similar; however, this is not entirely accurate. Steam rooms offer more benefits than hot showers without the detrimental effects of directly exposing your skin to hot water.

Steam rooms are much safer than hot showers because they will not scald your skin like a hot shower. 


Because of the steam from the hot water, steam rooms have hot showers have several similarities.

Steam rooms and hot showers both:

  • Take place in a relatively small, enclosed space – Steam rooms require an airtight space to achieve the goal of maximum humidity; showers tend to take place in a limited area due to home design.
  • Feature steam – While steam is the primary selling point of steam rooms (it’s in the name, after all), it’s a side effect of the hot water used to wash with during a shower.
  • Loosen phlegm – The steam from both loosen phlegm, helping to clear congestion. This is why you can breathe better after a shower when you have a head cold.

Despite these similarities, steam rooms have hot showers have more differences than they have in common.


Hot showers are primarily intended to clean your body, while steam rooms require a shower after you’re done. That’s not where the differences end.

There are several differences between steam rooms and hot showers:

  • Purpose
  • Ventilation
  • Heat

Many people prefer steam rooms because they are less dangerous for the body and do not cause heat damage. 


Many people use steam rooms and hot showers for different reasons.

People typically use hot showers when bathing. In contrast, steam rooms are used for relaxation or health purposes only and not to clean themselves. 


Hot showers usually have more ventilation than steam rooms since they are bathrooms.

Bathrooms require effective ventilation so they do not cause humidity across the house. Most steam in hot showers can escape through designated air ducts, unlike steam rooms which contain the steam inside the designated chambers.


Hot showers heat the body directly with extremely hot water.

The direct heat of the hot water can damage your skin, unlike steam rooms which use steam to heat the enclosed space around the body, thus raising the body temperature.

Key characteristics of a steam room

Steam rooms use generators filled with water to fill enclosed spaces with moist heat.

It is common to find steam rooms in places like spas, gyms, and other public areas. They promote positive respiratory health, improved circulation, and good skin health.

Keep reading to find out more about steam rooms.

Potential benefits of a steam room

Steam rooms are humid rooms that provide improved circulation, relaxation, and improved skin health among many other things.

Steam rooms offer the following benefits:

  • Humidity
  • Improved circulation 
  • Clearing congestion
  • Relaxation
  • Improved skin health

What does a steam room do for your body?

Steam rooms are great for your body because they promote good skin health and relax your muscles.

Overall, a steam room can help with relaxation, detoxification, recovery after a workout, and clear your airways, especially if you’re congested.

They can alleviate respiratory symptoms if they are used when sick.

Is it healthy to use the steam room every day?

Medical professionals recommend using steam baths prudently.

It is possible to use a steam room every day, but you should limit yourself to 3 times per week to get the best results without exposing yourself to additional potential risks.

Depending on how acclimated you are to the steam room, you should stay in for 5-20 minutes. Do not exceed 20 minutes at a time due to the risk of dehydration, fainting, or other serious health issues.

When should you not use a steam room?

It is not always safe to use a steam room because it can cause you to become dehydrated and raise your blood pressure.

You should avoid using a steam room if you:

  • Have
    • a fever
    • any major health concerns
    • low blood pressure
  • Are
    • unable to sweat
    • intoxicated 
    • dehydrated 

In some cases, existing or potential health concerns may prevent you from using steam rooms. 

Key characteristics of a hot shower

Showers are primarily indoor structures and are meant for bathing. These are usually found in bathrooms or other washroom facilities. The original shower may have come from waterfalls and then transitioned into man-made structures found in our homes today. 

Hot showers create steam while showering to relax the muscles or loosen phlegm. Unfortunately, they can scald the skin, causing redness and irritation.

Let’s look into some specifics.

Potential benefits of a hot shower

Hot showers have many benefits outside of a way to clean your body. 

Key benefits of using hot showers include: 

  • Increased relaxation
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved circulation
  • Workout recovery
  • Opening airways
  • Clearing nasal passages
  • Improved brain health

Taking a hot shower at the end of the day can be relaxing, but you should take these showers sparingly, so you do not strip your body of its natural oils.

Why do hot showers feel so good?

Hot showers feel great because they create steam that opens your pores and relaxes you.

Furthermore, the steam from hot showers creates a sensation that is similar to using a steam room, although it doesn’t have all of the same effects.

Is a warm shower better than a hot shower?

Many people prefer a hot shower more than a warm one because it creates more steam, and warm showers do not heat the body as much.

However, showering in hot water is more likely to cause dehydration and damage your skin from the heat.

Are hot showers good for your skin?

Hot showers can be bad for your skin, causing inflammation and redness that is similar to sunburns.

Instead, you should use a cold shower if you want to help your skin because they are better for your pores and do not strip your skin of its natural oils.

Potential risks of hot showers

While hot showers can feel great, there can be some potential issues, especially if you overdo it.

Potential risks of hot showers include:

  • Dehydration 
  • Skin damage
  • Increase blood pressure
  • Hair damage
  • Becoming overheated