Steam baths bathe you in warm, moist heat. They relax muscles, can ease pain in joints caused by arthritis and other ailments and lower your pulse rate and blood pressure, according to Columbia University's Go Ask Alice health column. Temperatures in steam rooms can average 110 to 114 degrees. Avoid steam rooms if you're pregnant or have respiratory or heart problems. Consult your doctor before you use a steam room if you have other health concerns.
Take a shower before you use the steam bath to remove dirt and oils. Remove any metal jewelry. Metal conducts heat very efficiently and can heat up in the steam room to the point where it could be uncomfortable or even burn you. Spavelous Magazine also recommends you remove your contact lenses before you enter the steam room.
Always adhere to the dress code at the facility you're using, but in general co-ed facilities require you to wear a bathing suit in the steam bath. Same-sex steam baths may be clothing optional. Even at these facilities, you may prefer to wear a towel. Even if you don't wear the towel, you should take one to sit on. You should also wear flip-flops or some sort of waterproof shoes. According to Columbia University, athlete's foot and other funguses can thrive in the warm, moist environment of a steam bath.
You can lie down or sit in the steam bath, but whatever position you choose, plan to relax. Close your eyes if you like, breathe deeply and focus on letting the heat soak in and relax you. Remain there as long as you are comfortable, which can be as little as 5 minutes or as long as 20 minutes. If you start to feel dizzy or nauseous or have trouble breathing, leave the steam bath for a cool place. Drink plenty of water while you're in the steam bath to help replace the moisture your body is losing.
Take a cool shower, then rest and allow your body to return to normal temperature. Don't run out and start rushing around right away. Drink some water and enjoy this break from a busy day.
Cynthia Myers is the author of numerous novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from "Historic Traveler" to "Texas Highways" to "Medical Practice Management." She has a degree in economics from Sam Houston State University.