Sweating it out

Writer Karen Fong | May 20, 2013

Steam rooms and saunas have always been a big part of the spa experience. But these days there’s more to it than just some heat and hot water. Spas are introducing aromatherapy into their steam rooms, infrared saunas and variations on these traditional facilities. The benefits of sauna, steam and heat have long been documented since the time of Roman baths and Japanese onsens.

The deep heat that a sauna or steam room invokes relieves muscle tension, eases joints and can improve respiratory congestion and works as a great mechanism for detox. Naturally, these facilities are a perfect fit for spas and guests are always recommended to spend at least ten to 15 minutes enjoying these facilities, which prepare the skin (and the mind) for an upcoming treatment.


As the body’s biggest organ, the skin isthe perfect tool for detox. Toxins such as pesticides, solvents and heavy metals can be eliminated through the skin. “Being in a sauna helps to train our body’s temperature and humidity regulatory functions, much like exercise,” explains Dr Hui Shiu Kee, medical director of Cutis Medical Group in Hong Kong and a dermatology specialist.

“The heat also helps the body excrete urea (a form of metabolic waste). Steam and sauna are also comforting forms of relaxation and help to refresh us mentally.” However, Dr Hui also cautions that steam and sauna rooms have their downside. “Steam and sauna can cause an increase intrans-epidermal water loss from the skin, resulting in dryness and even wrinkles if the skin is not properly moisturised after.” He also cautions against steam or sauna use if you have chronic diseases, such as hypertension or heart or brain issues. Hygiene can also be an issue particularly in a hot, warm environment like a steam room.

Since the skin is the largest organ of the body, a good way to help detoxify is to sweat
~ Claire Bostock