Saunas and steam rooms can provide a warm and relaxing environment -- while saunas deliver high temperatures and dry heat, steam rooms heat the air with moisture. Many people use saunas and steam rooms to relax and relieve the pain of sore muscles and joints after a difficult workout. Spending time in a sauna can be an enjoyable experience, but in some instances caution should be practiced.
The heat in a sauna can reach temperatures of 185 degrees Fahrenheit and raise the external skin temperature to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Harvard Health Publications. Dry heat causes the body to sweat in order to regulate body temperature. The body can lose a significant amount of fluid in the dry heat of a sauna, which can cause dehydration and symptoms of heat exhaustion. The temperature of a sauna is kept at a cooler 110 to 114 degrees Fahrenheit, but spending an excessive amount of time in the moist heat can cause dehydration and heat exhaustion. The University of Alabama at Birmingham recommends limiting time in a sauna to 15 minutes and 12 minutes in the steam room.
The moist warm air in a steam room can breed germs and bacteria. Problems can be avoided by cleaning and disinfecting the room regularly and by wearing water shoes or sandals when walking into a steam room.
Blood Pressure Changes
The high temperatures of a sauna can have an effect on blood pressure for some users. According to Harvard Health Publications, the extreme heat can cause blood pressure to increase in some patients while causing it to decrease in others. If you have blood pressure problems or uncontrolled blood pressure, you should limit time in the extreme heat of a sauna or steam room.
Spending a prolonged time in the heat of a sauna or steam room can have an effect on the number of sperm a man has, according to Harvard Health Publications. Men who are attempting to have children should limit exposure to the extreme heat of a steam room or sauna during this time.