Health Hazards of a Steam Room

Written by carolyn green
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Health Hazards of a Steam Room
Flip flops should be worn in the steam room to prevent slips and contracting athlete's foot. (green plastic flip flops against coloured background image by Steve Johnson from

A steam room is an almost airtight room heated by a steam generator. The humidity level is about 100 per cent. To contain moisture, the steam room uses materials like ceramic tile. The room should be built with a slanted ceiling to prevent steam from dripping onto bathers. While the steam room does offer health benefits like enhancing the detoxification process and easing muscle tension, the warm moist conditions makes it a breeding ground for bacteria and germs. Certain precautions should be taken to avoid the hazards of a steam room.

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Cuts and scratches will allow bacteria to invade the skin and cause infections. These infections include athlete's foot, colds and the deadly staph infection, Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA. To prevent this hazard, use a band aid to cover all scratches, keep your towel on as a barrier between your skin and shared surfaces, and do not share soaps, razors or towels.

Slip and Fall

Ceramic tile used in a steam room, coupled with the moisture from the steam, makes for a slippery floor. Flip flops should be worn at all times to prevent slips and falls. Flip flops will also help prevent athlete's foot and blisters. A blister also counts as a skin break which would allow bacteria to invade the skin.

Improper Cleaning

When using a steam room at a gym or spa, numerous germs can be spread by the large number of other users, along with a lack of adequate disinfecting of the steam room itself. It is best to avoid going in to a steam room that is crowded.

Health Problems

For people who have respiratory or cardiac problems, the steam room can have serious side effects. If you have any health problems, consult your health care provider before using a steam room. Steam rooms are often used for detoxification purposes to remove certain toxins. However, patrons should be medically supervised to avoid potential harmful effects on the kidneys and liver.

During Pregnancy

In addition to being exposed to the other hazards, pregnant women need to avoid conditions where the temperature can get too high. According to the March of Dimes website, a high body temperature can cause blood pressure to fall and deprive the foetus of nutrition and oxygen. Additionally, a high body temperature may cause birth defects.

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