Health Information: Infrared Lamps

Definition

Infrared Lamps emit infrared rays which cause heat. This heat may assist in relieving pain, muscle spasm and stiffness.

Description

There are two types of Infrared Lamps: luminous and non-luminous lamps.
Luminous lamps have a coil of fine wire (often made of tungsten) enclosed in a glass bulb. Non-luminous lamps have an element.
Infrared lamps are mounted on a base or stand and are portable. A reflector surrounds the globe or element and it will help to concentrate the rays. The reflector must be kept clean and shiny and it is adjustable to that the infrared rays can be directed at the body surface.

While the power output of Infrared Lamps varies between 100 and 1500 watts, those available from a Pharmacy are at the lower end of the range.

Infrared heats and increases the circulation in the outlying tissues. This may help to relieve pain and muscle spasm. There may be a mild reddening and sweating of the skin.

Treatment Options

Consult your Doctor or Physiotherapist before using an Infrared Lamp. They will advise you if one is suitable for your condition. You should be advised if there are any reasons why you should not use an Infrared Lamp.

Pharmacist's Advice

Ask your Pharmacist for advice.
1) Your Pharmacist will show you the range of Infrared Lamps available.
2) Make sure that you tell your Pharmacist why you may need the lamp.There are certain medical conditions when one should not be used. See the section on Hints for Infrared Lamps.
3) Ask for an eye mask if the lamp is being used near the eyes.

Notes

Using an Infrared Lamp
1) Check to make sure that there are no medical problems stopping you using the lamp.
2) Do a skin test.
This is done with two plastic cups one partially filled with cold water and the other hot water. Place on the skin over the area where the lamp is to be used, one at a time with the eyes closed.
You should be able to easily tell which is the hot cup and which is the cold cup. If you are not able to tell the difference, an Infrared Lamp should not be used.
3) Remove all metal objects from the area e.g., jewellery.
4) Remove clothing from the area to be heated. The use of Infrared over clothing can cause a burn.
5) Sit or lie down.
6) Make sure that the lamp is in the correct position and and on a stable surface. Place the globe or element between .45 to .6 of a metre away from the skin. Check the directions as this distance may vary. Make sure the electrical cord is not touching the lamp.
7) The angle of the lamp should be at 90 degrees i.e., perpendicular to the skin to be treated. Never position the lamp over the top of yourself or another person.
8) Turn the lamp on. Non-luminous lamps (i.e., with an element) take 5 - 10 mins to heat up before being used. Check the directions to see if the lamp you are using requires heating up.
9) Put an eye mask on if you have been advised to (i.e., if you are using a lamp and directing it towards you such that your eyes could be exposed, e.g., the front of the shoulder).
10) The amount of heat felt on the skin should be only comfortably warm. If it feels very warm or hot the lamp should be turned off or moved further away, as a burn on the skin could result.
11) Remain still while the lamp is on and avoid looking at or touching the lamp. Do not fall asleep.
12) Infrared is used for 15 to 20 minutes and can be used daily.

THIS IS NOT DIAGNOSTIC INFORMATION. STAY ON PRESCRIBED MEDICINES. (C) 2008 HEALTHPOINT TECHNOLOGIES.
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