Light interacts with living things in different ways. In plants, it powers a reaction that produces food to nourish the plant.
In humans, moderate exposure to UV rays from the sun are essential in the synthesis of vitamin D.
But it’s not just light from the sun that can be harnessed for therapeutic and health benefits. Infrared light therapy using lamps has become common in the last few years.
You can even get an infrared lamp for use at home rather than going to an infrared sauna at the spa.
Infrared light therapy is based on research showing that infrared or IR light has several benefits on the skin.
It can reduce wrinkles, treat blemishes and scars, increase collagen production and improve overall appearance.
How Infrared Light Therapy works
Infrared light therapy takes advantage of the fact that cells are sensitive to light.
Photoreceptors in cells absorb the light energy, resulting in reactions that promote faster healing, improve blood flow and boost production of collagen and elastin.
Almost all studies that have looked at the effect of IR therapy on individuals have found that it does make a difference.
After several weeks or months, participants had fewer wrinkles, smoother skin, a firmer skin texture and fewer blemishes.
Most of these results are not instantaneous. It may take several weeks or months to notice a major difference in your appearance.
Not all infrared therapy treatments are the same. Different lamps produce different types of wavelengths.
Most home lamps produce near infrared light, which has short wavelengths between 760 and 1,400nm. An infrared sauna on the other hand produces far infrared light with longer wavelengths.
The longer the wavelength the deeper the light penetrates into your skin.
For most home uses, a near infrared light lamp is good enough. If you need a more aggressive therapy using, going to the spa is the best option.
What about Red Light Therapy?
Red light therapy is different from near infrared light therapy.
Red light is not infrared light. It’s part of the visible light spectrum while infrared light is on the invisible spectrum.
Because red light has shorter wavelengths than near infrared light, it targets the surface of the skin.
It reduces inflammation, relieves pain, increase blood flow, reduces stiffness and quickens healing of scars and blemishes.
Some infrared light lamps also provide red light therapy.
Infrared Light Therapy side effects
Infrared and red light therapy are generally very safe treatments. They do not have the harmful effects of UV radiation from the sun.
The most you might experience is mild headache, eye strain, irritability and insomnia.
If you are using an infrared lamp at home, make sure it incorporates UV protection.
Infrared light is emitted along with UV light. Most lamps use a ceramic cover that blocks the harmful UV light while allowing infrared light through.
Avoid using an infrared light lamp or getting into an infrared light sauna if you have a health condition affecting your eyes, have a history of skin cancer or you are taking medication that is light-sensitive.
Talk to your doctor before using an infrared lamp or going for a spa IR therapy session.