With temperatures reaching 45.6 degrees Celsius, steam bathing provides a host of physical benefits but can also pose certain risks. These risks range in seriousness, so it's important to weigh the pros and cons before using a steam room.
One benefit of using a steam room is the relaxation it provides. The moist heat slows down the heart rate, which creates a calm feeling. The heat also causes blood vessels to open wider, which has the immediate effect of lowering blood pressure. People with certain temporary or chronic breathing conditions may find that the moist air provides temporary relief for their symptoms.
The skin responds to a steam room by opening the pores and sweating, which can lead to a significant loss of water in the body. This provides temporary weight loss, although the weight is gained back from rehydrating. Sweating causes the body to eliminate electrolytes such as sodium, which may also relieve excess water retention. Still, the warm, moist environment is a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi that cause infection. For this reason, one should always wear shower shoes in a steam room.
A steam room's effect on heart rate, blood pressure and circulation make it a risk for pregnant women, people with known heart conditions and those taking certain medications that affect the circulatory system.