While infrared therapy has become a popular treatment for aches and pains, a doctor cautioned that it is not a cure-all and people with certain health conditions are advised to avoid using such devices.
Infrared therapy can generally be subdivided into near and far-infrared therapies, with the former often used in the earlier stage of treatment, said Chen Kuan-cheng (陳冠誠), a doctor at National Taiwan University’s Department of Rehabilitation Medicine.
Near-infrared therapy has greater penetration and can warm up the target area more efficiently, increasing the blood flow and raising the metabolic rate, he said.
Far-infrared therapy, which has become more common, does not heat up the body, but increases the body’s capability to absorb protein, dilates blood vessels and reduces inflammation, he said.
Infrared therapies are usually used to treat sports injuries, arthritis, damaged soft tissue or taut muscles, he added.
However, people should be careful to observe the proper time, distance and intensity when using infrared beams, making sure to avoid direct exposure to the eyes or open wounds, he said.
Every session should last no longer than 15 to 30 minutes, with at least one hour of rest between sessions, he said, adding that users should keep the device about 40cm to 60cm away from the skin.
The intensity of the beams should be adjusted according to instructions in the equipment’s manual, he said.
Users should ensure that they stay in a room that is not overtly hot, he said.
People with diabetes, poor circulation or cognitive deficiency should not use such devices as they could inadvertently suffer burns, while those with malignant tumors should avoid them as they could cause tumor cells to spread, he said.
People who have acute inflammation, dermatitis and eczema should also avoid infrared therapy as it could cause their condition to worsen, he added.
Separately, the Food and Drug Administration reminded people to only buy devices that carry the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s medical license number.
Users should try to hydrate themselves adequately during each therapy session, and ensure that the target area is clean and free of medication for better results, it said.
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