I am unfamiliar with any good research showing the benefit of this type of treatment for patients with atopic dermatitis (AD). Infrared light is different from UV light which has been shown to be beneficial for patients with AD.
The key difference between infrared and ultraviolet radiation is that the wavelength of infrared radiation is longer than that of visible light, whereas the wavelength of ultraviolet (UV) radiation is shorter than the wavelength of visible light. Infrared and ultraviolet radiation are two types of electromagnetic radiation.
An infrared sauna is a type of sauna that uses light to create heat. This type of sauna is sometimes called a far-infrared sauna — “far” describes where the infrared waves fall on the light spectrum. A traditional sauna uses heat to warm the air, which in turn warms your body. An infrared sauna heats your body directly without warming the air around you.
The appeal of saunas in general is that they cause reactions similar to those elicited by moderate exercise, such as vigorous sweating and increased heart rate. An infrared sauna produces these results at lower temperatures than does a regular sauna, which makes it accessible to people who can’t tolerate the heat of a conventional sauna. But does that translate into tangible/clinically relevant health benefits? Perhaps.
Several studies have looked at using infrared saunas to treat chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, headaches, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and found some evidence of benefit. However, larger and more rigorous studies are needed to confirm these results, especially in atopic dermatitis. Some of these studies were also performed with patients using a traditional sauna.
Please understand that this type of treatment is separate and distinct from Phototherapy, also called light therapy, which means treatment with different wavelengths of ultraviolet (UV) light. It can be prescribed to treat many forms of eczema in adults and children and helps to reduce itch and inflammation.
Phototherapy is generally used for eczema that is all over the body (widespread) or for localized eczema (such as hands and feet) that has not improved with topical treatments. The most common type of phototherapy used to treat eczema is narrowband ultraviolet B (NB-UVB) light. However, other options may be recommended by your healthcare provider, including those that use ultraviolet A (UVA) light. Treatment with phototherapy uses a special machine to emit either UVB or UVA light.