Infrared Therapy Uses and Applications

Infrared therapy is a safe, drug-free, and effective way to reduce pain and inflammation throughout the body with the use of light. Though the method is relatively simple, it has become the center of many studies for its effectiveness in the treatment of a wide array of health conditions.

woman having infrared light therapy on face - dermatology application - a photo by Lyudvig AristarhovichLyudvig Aristarhovich | Shutterstock

Why is infrared light useful?

The sun doesn’t only provide the world with light, but also heat and energy for people and other living things to survive and grow. Humans absorb the rays of the sun through the skin and eyes, and use the energy for many metabolic processes. This is evident from the wide array of conditions, such as depression, fatigue, depressed immune function, and sleep disorders, that occur during sunlight deprivation.

Infrared therapy has been used in a wide range of applications for many years. It is one of several innovative therapies used to help patients suffering from pain and/or injury. Infrared therapy utilizes numerous light wavelengths between 780 nm to 1000 μm, which are directed at injured or inflamed sites in the body.

Infrared light can penetrate deep into the skin layers, reaching the tissues of the body. Photo-biostimulation is the process wherein living tissue shows biochemical responses when exposed to light energy via respiratory chain component absorption.

The good thing about infrared light is that it does not damage the skin like ultraviolet light. In fact, infrared light improves the circulation of blood, and promote cell regeneration. Infrared light is the heat people feel when exposed to the sun and the body has the natural ability to radiate it as well.

For years, infrared therapy has been used for its soothing effects in wound treatment. Many studies have shown that this type of therapy enhances the wound healing process. Some studies have revealed that infrared can help improve circulation in various parts of the body like the skin and tissues. Also, it can help regulate sleep, protect against oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, and ease the pain.

Health benefits of infrared light

Infrared light has been linked to many benefits. These include:

  • Promoting wound healing and tissue repair
  • Stimulating healing of ulcers and slow-healing wounds
  • Improving hair growth
  • Controlling psoriasis
  • Relieving pain
  • Improving skin appearance
  • Reducing the side effects of cancer treatments such as oral mucositis

Aside from these, infrared therapy helps reduce sun damage, improve joint health, reduce scars, prevent chronic and recurring cold sores, and relieve inflammation.

When is infrared therapy used?

To alleviate inflammation and pain

There are many painful conditions that can be treated by infrared therapy. These include chronic or acute pain arising from arthritis, back problems, trauma, injury to any part of the body, bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, sciatica, muscle strain, and wounds.

Sports medicine

Infrared therapy is widely used in sports medicine to treat injuries incurred by athletes, including a broad range of chronic and acute musculoskeletal injuries.

Other applications

Dentists utilize infrared light to treat many types of wounds and ulcerations in the oral cavity. Moreover, rheumatologists have used infrared light therapy to reduce pain and inflammation, particularly when autoimmune diseases are involved. Dermatologists also use light therapy to manage patients with burns, skin lesions, edema, ulcers, and dermatitis.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jan 9, 2019

Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

Written by

Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

Angela is a nurse by profession and a writer by heart. She graduated with honors (Cum Laude) for her Bachelor of Nursing degree at the University of Baguio, Philippines. She recently completed a Master's Degree where she specialized in Maternal and Child Nursing and is now working as a clinical instructor and educator in the School of Nursing at the University of Baguio.

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