Does Infrared Light Damage Your Skin?

We all know that ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun can damage our skin, but what about other types of light? In particular, does infrared light have any harmful effects on our skin?

What is infrared light?

Infrared light is a type of electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength range of 700nm-1mm. It is invisible to the human eye but can be felt as heat. Infrared radiation is used in many applications, including thermal imaging, infrared astronomy, and passive night vision.

How does infrared light damage skin?

Infrared light penetrates the skin deeply and can cause damage to the collagen fibers that support the skin. This can lead to wrinkles, sagging skin, and a dull complexion. Additionally, infrared light can cause sunburns, and increase the risk of skin cancer. However, infrared light has been shown to be beneficial for the skin in some studies.

Who is most at risk for infrared light damage?

While everyone is at risk of damage from infrared light, some people are more susceptible than others. Those with a history of sunburns or previous skin cancer are particularly vulnerable, as are those with fair skin, blue eyes, and red hair. People who take certain medications, such as certain birth control pills or antibiotics, may also be more susceptible.

How can you prevent infrared light damage?

There are a few ways to prevent infrared light damage:

  • Avoiding direct exposure: This is the most obvious way to prevent damage, but it’s not always possible. If you know you’ll be exposed to infrared light, try to limit your exposure time and wear protective clothing, such as long sleeves and pants.
  • Wearing sunscreen: Sunscreen won’t completely block infrared light, but it can help reduce your risk of damage. Look for a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher that offers broad-spectrum protection.
  • Using skincare products with antioxidants: Antioxidants can help protect your skin from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells, including skin cells. Apply a topical antioxidant serum or cream to your skin before exposure to infrared light.

What are the symptoms of infrared light damage?

There are a few different types of light that fall under the “infrared” category, and each one can cause different symptoms:

  • Near-infrared light (NIR) is the longest wavelength of light in the infrared spectrum, and it’s closest to visible light on the electromagnetic spectrum. This type of infrared light is not as harmful as other types, but it can still cause some damage to the skin. The most common symptom of NIR exposure is localized heating, which can cause pain, redness, and swelling.
  • Mid-infrared light (MIR) is the second-longest wavelength in the infrared spectrum. It’s less damaging than near-infrared light, but it can still cause some skin irritation, especially if you’re exposed to it for a long period of time. The most common symptom of MIR exposure is erythema, which is a medical term for redness of the skin.
  • Far-infrared light (FIR) is the shortest wavelength in the infrared spectrum, and it’s also the most harmful. FIR exposure can cause a wide range of symptoms, from mild erythema to severe burns. In extreme cases, FIR exposure can even lead to cancer.

How is infrared light damage treated?

There is no specific treatment for infrared light damage. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and protecting the skin from further damage. These include:

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing that doesn’t rub or irritate the skin.
  • Apply a cool, wet compress to the skin to help relieve pain and inflammation.
  • Avoid exposure to sunlight or other sources of infrared light, such as heat lamps, saunas, and tanning beds.
  • Use broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to protect the skin from ultraviolet (UV) light.

What are the long-term effects of infrared light damage?

Infrared light therapy is a popular treatment for a variety of skin conditions, including wrinkles, scars, and stretch marks. While the short-term effects of infrared light therapy are well-documented, the long-term effects are not as well understood.

Some studies have suggested that infrared light therapy may increase the risk of skin cancer, although more research is needed to confirm this. Additionally, infrared light therapy can cause temporary redness and swelling of the skin. It is important to talk to a doctor before undergoing infrared light therapy to make sure it is safe for you.

Can infrared light damage be prevented?

Infrared light has been shown to damage DNA and promote the formation of free radicals, which can lead to premature aging and even cancer.

You can prevent infrared light damage by using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Infrared light can also be blocked by clothing, hats, and sunglasses.

In Closing

Turns out, there is some evidence that infrared light may indeed be harmful to our skin. So, if you’re worried about protecting your skin from the harmful effects of light, you might want to consider avoiding exposure to infrared light as well.

NEXT UP: Do Light Bulbs Give Off Infrared Light?

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Rebecca Ross
About Rebecca Ross

Rebecca Ross an Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) consultant who runs her own occupational safety consultancy. She focuses on hazardous materials, warehouse safety, fire safety, lab safety, fall protection, head protection and other workplace safety topics. Learn more about Rebecca here or connect with her on Twitter | LinkedIn | Medium