Contraindications for Infrared Sauna- When NOT to Use Sauna Therapy

By Dr. Candy Akers

There has been so much hype around infrared saunas and their amazing health benefits. It is well known that infrared saunas have positive influences on the body, aiding physical as well as mental health. However, it's time to know the contraindications for infrared saunas, when using one could be more harmful than helpful. 

Who Should Avoid Infrared Saunas?

People with the following health conditions should AVOID using infrared saunas as the they can have adverse side effects.

  • Pregnant women
  • Newborns and children
  • Patients with severe cardiovascular conditions
  • Anyone suffering from dehydration, weakness, trauma, or difficulty breathing
  • People using drugs, alcohol, and particular prescription medicines
  • People who have recently undergone serious trauma or surgery 

Pregnant Women

It is not recommended to use infrared sauna treatment if you are pregnant. It can be harmful to the unborn child. (Tropp, et al, 2013). Always consult with your gynecologist or your regular physician before any sauna use.


Evidence suggests that children have a higher core temperature than adults. This is because of their higher metabolic rate, their inability to regulate body temperature, and their limited circulatory adaptation. Hence, it is important to understand that infrared saunas might affect children poorly. That said, there is some evidence that shows children benefiting from saunas if they are used for less than 15 minutes and at lower temperatures. Check with your child's doctor.

Cardiovascular Conditions

If you have congestive heart failure, acute impaired coronary circulation, recent heart surgery, or a heart transplant try not to expose your body to heat through infrared saunas. Cardiac output is increased by heat stress that elevates your heart rate.

Alcohol or Drug Intoxication

Drinking alcohol often leads to poor judgment, which makes it difficult to realize your body's reaction to high heat. Heat stress may elevate the heart rate. However, with those using drugs and/or alcohol, the heart rate is already increased. Therefore, it is highly recommended to avoid using an infrared sauna while consuming alcohol and drugs. 

Many doctors use sauna therapy to help addicts recover from drug and alcohol abuse. Saunas heat your body inside and out. This releases toxins and may help in healing. 


If you are using blood thinning drugs such as Warfarin, try avoiding infrared light. Check the labels and warnings on your prescription medications or speak with your doctor about your condition and meds. Discuss weather infrared sauna therapy is right for you. Other medications such as diuretics, barbiturates, and beta-blockers have the potential to impair the natural heat loss mechanisms of the body. If you take large doses of over-the-counter drugs like antihistamines, you should not use infrared saunas as your body could be highly susceptible to heat stroke (Ene, et al, 2013).


Some surgical implants should not be heated by infrared light. If you have undergone silicone implants, you should discontinue using infrared saunas. Research shows that silicone has the tendency to absorb infrared energy. In addition, silicone melts at high temperatures. Hence, you need to avoid using the sauna (Wilson, et al, 2010). 

Bottom Line

Despite the tremendous benefits of infrared sauna therapy, there are a few pit falls to watch for. The exposure from infrared heat is possibly problematic for people with certain health conditions. Always check with your doctor to determine the health benefits and risks. 


Tropp, L. (2013). A Womb with a View: America's Growing Public Interest in Pregnancy. ABC-CLIO.

Ene, C. A., Stancila, M., Ivanescu, M., & Neacsu, A. C. (2013). Studies on Infrared Radiation Heating for Increasing Thermal Comfort. University of Pitesti, Faculty Of Mechanics And Technology, Automotive Series, (24).

Wilson, L. (2010). Infrared Sauna Therapy.