Hot, Steamy Baths: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

by Head Health Nutter on February 28, 2008

Soaking in a hot bath with Epsom salts, scented oils and candles is one of my weekly pleasures. It is a great way to relax while helping your body detox as it raises your core temperature, dilates your blood vessels, aids blood circulation, lowers blood pressure and draws contaminants out through your pores, along with many other benefits.

But there are just as many health dangers to hot baths as there are bonuses. At the risk of getting too personal, I’d like to share a recent traumatic experience with a cleansing hot bath so that others are aware of the dangers and can take the necessary precautions.

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This post was updated with photos on November 4, 2009. It took me awhile to get over myself before publishing them. :)

My Bath Tub Trauma

Normally, Sundays are my bath night so I can wind down the weekend and gear up for the week ahead. But this week was different. The weekend was exceptionally busy and by Tuesday morning, I woke up with a sore throat. I called in sick so that I could rest, give my immune system a chance to attack the virus and escape the otherwise inevitable cold. A cold would certainly slow me down – the last thing I needed or wanted.

Drinking plenty of liquids and grabbing lots of sleep, the afternoon brought an impulse to have a hot, steamy bath with Epsoms salts. I thought, “This’ll take care of any nasty cold virus; I’ll flush it out!”

The bath was heaven and a half an hour later I stood to get out…and fainted! I was lucky: my face broke my fall. It could have been much worse since we have a narrow bathroom and I missed hitting my head on the porcelain sink, toilet and heat register.

When I woke, which was only seconds later, I was on the floor. I lifted myself up slightly, blinked, and blood started falling to the floor in big drops. Disoriented, I stood and looked in the mirror and sure enough, I was bleeding through my mouth and nose. Grabbing a clean facecloth, I soaked it, held it to my face and stumbled into the living room to grab the phone.

I had no thought processes at this point, by the way. I was confused, I couldn’t get a handle on what happened, and all I knew was that I needed help. It was pure instinct that led me to grab the phone and call my hubby on his cell. I got out, “I need your help. I’ve fallen.” And before he had a chance to respond, I was out for the count again.

He was able to call 911 and told them our address before I awoke and called him again. As I tried to talk to my Love (he spoke to both 911 and me at the same time), I staggered around, naked, dazed and confused, attempting to figure out how to get dressed. I managed to get downstairs, unlock the door and greet the E.M.S. guys with clothes and with a VERY crooked smile on.

An ambulance ride over to St. Joe’s Emergency, an ECG (electrocardiogram), blood work and 7 hours in the Emergency and we’re still clueless to exactly how it all happened. My face is smooshed in. My nose escaped being broken but it makes a funny crinkly sound now, and it’s bruised and swollen. My lips, the same and split open.

Day after accident This photo was taken the day after the accident. I was on the phone with my Mom getting the TLC I needed. :) By the way, my nose is usually NOT that big.

I’ve been singing, “all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth” in my head since because they are what took the brunt of my fall. You might not be able to tell from the picture but they were in the middle of my mouth.

At least until $800 worth of oral surgery (so far) and a lot of pain as the dental surgeon (thank you, Dr. Pain!) reset them by pushing them back into their sockets. Two of my front teeth are chipped and Dr. Pain used a metal splint and wired the front four teeth together for stability while they heal.

Day 3 after accident Here’s me after oral surgery and a trip to my dentist for repairs to the chipped teeth, 3 days after the accident. Much better, wouldn’t you say?

Health professionals suggest hot baths may be dangerous for individuals suffering from obesity or having a medical history of heart disease, low or high blood pressure, circulatory system problems, diabetes or pregnant women and their fetuses. 

So, this bath tub episode of mine is a complete mystery. I JUST had a physical examination on Saturday with my Naturopathic Doctor and I’m in top physical condition (my blood pressure was perfect). I’ve never fainted before and am a bath-time master. Now, the bath was hotter than usual and I did a bunch of abdominal exercises before I got up. Exercise has the same effects on the body as hot baths so perhaps I lowered my blood pressure double-time and coupled with getting up too fast…

I have an appointment with my G.P. tomorrow for more tests to make sure it was the circumstances and not an underlying health problem.

Will I ever enjoy another hot bath? Certainly! The benefits of baths far outweigh the slight possibility of this ever happening again. Do I recommend hot, steamy baths for others? Definitely for healthy people! Just do what my friend Denise suggests: pull the plug and pour cold water in to gradually bring your core temperature down. And get up slowly.

Man, what a way to learn a lesson! Please, please, please be careful with your bath-time fun!

Did you enjoy this post? You may also like to read about another accident I had more recently, “My Buns of Steel vs. An Automobile (or How Important is Fitness to Survival?)”

If you like reading about natural health & wellness, subscribe to Live Lighter’s RSS feed or via email. And if you think someone might benefit from my lessons in bath-time fun, please feel free to share it on your favourite social networking sites!

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{ 182 comments… read them below or add one }

Abie October 14, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Hi, this has also happened to me. Like almost twice. But then i got the answer why did this happened. In my opinion, nobody can stay in very very hot temperature area like venus cause hot temperature reduced the oxygen. You might start feeling faint if you are getting out of tub. Without oxygen, nobody survive. Body need lots of water to make the body function properly. Its doesn’t matter whether you have high blood pressure, diabetes etc. But be assured, always take warm bath so you don’t have to take hottest water bath just imagine yourself, will you survive yourself from boiling water? No. Nobody can. I am glad, I already got to know this was going to happen to me so i got out of ASAP and then went to my room
and lied down for sometime. I had plenty of water. And then i felt better and normal again. This is my opinion and what i have experience it from science class especially temperature and life topic. But i am not an expert but i got feeling this is the only reason why you must have fainted. Anyway, take care and always take little warm water and little bit of hot water. Take care.

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Jai December 20, 2012 at 11:34 pm

I believe ur both correct. I ALWAYS take hot baths and am ALWAYS extremely dizzy and lightheaded afterwards. I usually just lie down immediately upon getting out and I just air dry. Most times I doze off for about 2hours. Tonight when I got out I was extremely thirsty and felt ok to make it the kitchen for some water. I felt it coming before it happened but couldn’t stop it. I passed out. It wasn’t long, but I woke up a little later with major pain at my mouth and ears ringing. I stood up and made it my bathroom to asses the damage. I felt it coming again but made it to the bed to lay down in time. After awhile I felt ok enough to get that water I needed and greedily gulped it down. I’m still laying here cause I get dizzy when I stand. It’s never been this bad after a bath. The one thing that has changed in my life is that I have been put on a medicine for high/low blood pressure…mine can’t decide what it wants to do. The medicine is also for migraines and chest pains which I have both. That’s why I feel u are both correct in ur assumptions as to the dizzying and lightheadedness after a bath.

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Mike November 3, 2012 at 7:28 am

Years ago while living in Germany I was suffering from panic attacks after my mum died (I’m now a 66-year-old male), and my employer’s wife, who was a fitness fanatic, took me to the local spa and sat me in the pool for about 30 minutes. It wasn’t a hot tub, but the water was ~very~ warm. After 30 minutes I got out, but could barely stand up I was so light-headed. Somehow with her help supporting me we made it to her car, she took me back to my place and I slept like a baby for eight hours. Next day I went to the doctor and after being checked over he said I should avoid saunas in future.

On 19th October 2012 I suffered a minor heart attack and have just been discharged from hospital. The staff nurse said NO HOT BATHS! Just moderately warm ones. I do find a warm bath very relaxing. Now I’m psyching myself up for a CABG in 4 weeks’ time, as stents wouldn’t have lasted very long. The literature claims 95% success rate, so here’s hoping!

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Head Health Nutter November 8, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Thanks for sharing your experience and situation with us, Mike. Best of luck with your CABG!

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Janice November 4, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Just sitting here recovering from a near-faint after sitting too long in an overly warm bath. I think it’s just showers for the near future!

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Head Health Nutter November 8, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Scary stuff, eh, Janice? I hope some of the comments above will help you still enjoy a bath every now and again!

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Sarah November 23, 2012 at 6:33 am

I took a really hot shower this morning and after i got out, I felt nauseas and a little weak/light headed. I almost threw up and was unable to eat any thing. This lasted about an hour, then seems as quickly as I was sick, I felt better. Have had a few episodes like this in the past, I guess I’ll just have to make sure my water isn’t too hot in the future.

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Tiffany November 23, 2012 at 11:09 pm

i normally take showers, but tonight i took a hot epsom salt bath cuz was aching so bad. It was great and my body felt much better, but it seemed to have gone to my head because i picked up one hell of a headache and feel kinda woozy.guess i must of made way too hot.

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Susan Atkinson November 24, 2012 at 9:44 pm

I enjoy the benefits if a hot Epsom salts bath as well. A great combo is to do stretches in the tub as well!

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J December 27, 2012 at 12:01 am

When I’m done an epsom salt bath I always try to drain the water and then fill up with a cooler salt water bath so I don’t pass out!

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Jules January 13, 2013 at 6:17 pm

When I lived in Iceland, I once had the same experience, I fainted after I had sat in a hot tub for an hour. Luckily I fainted in the dressing room, so someone could catch me before I hit the ground! I woke up in the first-aid room where I was stuffed with chocolate and energy drink. The nurse (well not ‘official nurse’ but person with first-aid qualifications), she explained that people faint after coming out of hot tubs when their blood sugar level lowers because of the change from the hot not-heat-absorbing water to the cooler heat-absorbing air.
A month later I went with an Icelandic familily to a natural hotspot somewhere in the middle of a dried-out lava field. The water was about 42 degrees Celsius (107.6 Fahrenheit) and while bathing the parents distributed chocolate and sweets to everyone to keep the blood sugar level up.
I think the thing that did you most harm and that caused the bleeding was the fall rather than the bath. If hart problem occur then avoid hot bath altogether but nausea should not keep you from taking hot baths. It seems also better to acquire an objective means of measuring ‘hot bath’. By that I mean: read up on what the best temperatures are for bathing at different times of the day and then simply buy a thermometer. This will both ensure that your bath is healthily hot and it will make you confident in taking hot baths end thus enhance your relaxation experience.
Have a nice Sunday!

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Tammy Porter January 14, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Its dangerous to soak in a hot tub for longer than 45 minutes when theres epsom salts, essential oils or anything with healing properties including the hot water itself. Too much of anything no matter how it benefits the body will be detrimental to our health. 2 hour soaks is seriously pushing it.

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Michelle February 4, 2013 at 3:08 pm

I don’t get hot baths, but I tend to turn up the shower knobs to the hottest temperature as I adjust to it, I always notice I feel light-headed whenever I have a shower. And I see spots. Usually I think I’m going to fall, but nothing ever happens. I am too out of it to sit there and regain my balance and usually end up walking into walls. I hope this never happens.

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steph j February 11, 2013 at 8:52 pm

This has just happened to me. I had to come and look up what it could be. I knew the bath was hotter than normal but didnt want to wait for it to cool. Iwas in there for about 20 mins. my face started sweating and i began to feel faint. so decidedto get out quickly and lie on the bathroom floor. The room was spinning, and all of a sudden I needed to toilet and wanted to vomit. I wanted to passout again and suddenly couldnt see, but knew i was conscious. i could hear rushing in my ears. i managed to wet a towel with cold water and just dabbed my face to cool down. i ran a veryshallowcold bath and splashed myselfwith cold water. I had tocall my bf to say what happened, but for a moment i wasthinking i was going to have to call 911 or geta neighbour to help me, and how on earth would i get out the bathroom to unlock the door, or even get dressed. Very scary. Your comments have all really helped me so i thank you all for posting.

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Jesse March 27, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Hi,

One of the very first articles I ever read about the healing/health benefits of warm baths warned specifically about getting up or out to fast after a soak. Your basic hot bath soak (I hope I remember this correctly) lowers your blood pressure as you relax. The article suggested soaks no longer than 15 mins at the hottest temp. It also suggested cooling the bath off before getting out by adding come cold water. The idea is to bring your body temp back to it’s normal range and bring the blood pressure back up. They also advise you get up and out slowly and carefully stopping the moment you feel any dizzyness.

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Garcinia Cambogia On Dr. Oz April 15, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote
the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the
message home a bit, but instead of that, this is fantastic blog.

An excellent read. I’ll certainly be back.

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Brittany May 8, 2013 at 11:26 am

I usually take hot showers too. Only tonight I had the water really hot and didn’t have the fan on to circulate the air. I was in there for about an hour or so and started feeling like I was going to be sick so I sat down and then felt dizzy I immediately turned the cold water on but I was still getting more and more dizzy. I jumped out of the shower and put my clothes on before I fainted and came and laid in my bed. I am still very dizzy and am having hot and cold sweats. My temperature of my blood most have been so hot it slowed my heart right down! My old friend from high school unfortunately had the worst. His brother came back from a run and had a hot shower. Way to hot sadly it slowed his heart rate right down until he fainted and then his heart just stopped. Wasn’t more than about an hour later that his family had noticed he was taking to long once they opened the door it was to late. All that hot water has kept running on his body while he was already out, nothing could be done to help him.
Please be very careful as hot showers or baths are actually EXTREMELY dangerous and can cause death!

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Mr.Hanky May 8, 2013 at 6:49 pm

i only take baths when i have a final or a cold, i take the baths to relax and/or focus on studying. when i have a cold i can be in for 1-2hours, studys can land me a good 3-7 hour bath (late night)…but i usually end it when id need to “refresh/reheat” the water (something i do frequently until im done), so its usually just sort of warm when i get out. i am a super soaker

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Ada June 27, 2013 at 4:53 pm

I took a really long steamy bath today and I got out and went to take a cool shower and I saw black patches in my vision and passed out. At most hotels, the hot tubs say that you shouldn’t stay in them for more than 10 minutes.

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Daniel June 30, 2013 at 7:32 am

I regularly take hot baths as preferred to standing in a shower for up to ten minutes, and find it highly therapeutic in addition to being good for my health. However, there have been times where I have felt light-headed and dizzy as described above although no fainting (touch wood) has been experienced thus far. The best thing to do is stick your elbow in as it’s running to make sure the temperature isn’t too hot, and adjust it as you see fit. Standing up too quickly will make you fall over in the bath so a steady rise is recommended; as for headaches these are common but temporary and usually subside. I’m off for a bath myself now!

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Joyce July 1, 2013 at 7:57 am

I am still feeling dizzy from last nights hot bath. I cant even sit for a long period of time in a chair without standing, stretching, then feel faint. Its definitley a blood pressure problem. After a bath, I never feel as close to death as I do when sitting/getting out of a hot bath/shower. As of now, I am weak feeling as if I just got out of the hospital. God help us all who suffer from this feeling not to mention, I am prescribed high blood pressure pills that I rarely take. Not smart I know. I am shocked to read that Im not the only one.

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Chris July 9, 2013 at 6:03 pm

I have hot baths all the time, if I feel strange I get out and sit on the edge then once I’ve cooled down enough I get back in. Love the clean feel you get form hot water.

I find the mind runs away and I come up with some great ideas in the bath.

Yes dont over do the heat…

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Danie July 23, 2013 at 11:35 am

Bathing in hot water is a habit i’ve taken up months ago not only because of the blissfull sensations it delivers but also because I found out that it burns a lot calories. The loss of liquids and calories happens very quickly and therefore the physic is subject to a sudden switch of temperature within. I figure that is what causes drowsiness which can lead to fainting. There is a trick to avoid so and that is to chill up the tub just a little bit before you get out of it. That helps the body to gradually settle back into its habitual envoironment.

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Scott September 6, 2013 at 10:54 am

I have hot baths all the time and when i say hot i mean when i get in my skin turns red, though dont know why i never seem to feel the heat on my back and will lay in it for min of a hour to two hours before getting out but yet have never felt faint from it or passed out i guess im just lucky from that and after getting out can quite easy do anything i want to from going out to playing on my pc, though still dont know why my back never feels the heat it only ever feels luke warm at best there

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samedayflowers September 7, 2013 at 5:49 pm

I’ve experienced the feeling dizzy and like i’m about to pass out many a time upon getting out of a hot bath. There’s a few things I do which prevent this from happening. One is don’t stay in there too long, no longer than 20-30 mins. Second, if you don’t want to be laying on a bed recovering for half an hour after you get out simply run the cold 10 minutes before you plan on getting out and the body will cool down so you aren’t dripping with sweat for 20 minutes after you’ve got out and losing even more potassium.

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peter September 9, 2013 at 1:00 pm

is hot water bath dangerous to skin?

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Tony October 17, 2013 at 12:46 am

I take hot hot hot baths at least four to five times a week, sometimes seven days a week. The only problem I’ve experienced is sweating from my head. It’s real annoying. I have high blood pressure, COPD, and recently spent five days in the hospital due to a blood clot in my leg and pulmonary embolisms in both of my lungs. It’s been three weeks now and I’m taking blood thinner’s. I still take hot baths four to seven hot hot hot baths a week. I’m hoping I can get a professional opinion on this subject. Please feel free to email me if you have or here more on this topic. Thanks for everyone’s remarks.

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Tom Thomas October 25, 2013 at 10:30 pm

I have owned a hot tub for 7 years now and absolutely could not live without it. I love it for those cold crisp winter nights when it’s 15 degrees out.

But proper water quality is critical to your health too. If you use too much chlorine (or other chemicals) it is very unhealthy for you. Proper water balance is key and it is a science. Since I have learned how hard it is to maintain the water in a hot tub I stopped using public hot tubs.

***HOWEVER*** the hot temperature greatly affects your cardiovascular system and thus people that are unhealthy (and folks that are not “in good physical shape” are usually affected by being in a hot tub. I always warn guests when they get out they will feel light headed for a few moments and to be very cautious.

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Aaron November 10, 2013 at 2:15 am

Please be sure to drink a lot before and after the shower or bath!!!
Crazy story!!! I am sorry to hear this happened, but I am glad that you are alright!

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Celeste Mann November 16, 2013 at 8:34 am

This is an old story, but people are still commenting, so I’ll comment. I’m not a health professional, but I think the fact that you were sick or trying to get sick, had a lot to do with it. Your body was already working with a depressed immune system and trying to fight off an infection. You may have had a fever or been dehydrated because of it. Sitting in the hot water may have just been the wrong thing to do at that time.

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Head Health Nutter November 28, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Thanks to everyone who has commented on this post! You’re all fabulous for taking the time to share your thoughts, sympathies and suggestions. :) From all the info gathered here, from laymen and health pros, it seems as if the main cause of the accident came from the water being way to hot. Let this be a warning for all those who love really hot water, just be careful!!!

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Justin December 12, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Drink plenty of water before, during and following your hot baths. When it is time to get out transition yourself slowly. Start at a sitting position and work your way up gradually. If at any point you feel light headed sit back down and recover (unplug bath drain first obviously) for a moment.

You most likely got lit headed due to dehydration, but it could also be the shock to your system going from hot to cool, laying down to standing too quickly.

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melissa December 15, 2013 at 10:58 am

I have been taking extremely hot baths (115 degrees) Daily for about 10 years now. I have not been sick once since then. I am talking colds and flu’s. Not a one! think there might be a connection. I so look forward to my daily soak. Will never take a shower again unless absolutely necessary!

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willson March 2, 2014 at 11:18 am

This is nice post. Hot foot baths can help with colds and headaches as well as refreshing tired feet. Pour enough hot water into the bath or a bowl to cover your feet and ankles and add a few drops of an essential oil such as lavender, peppermint, thyme or lemon. Finish by rinsing your feet with cold water.

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Charlie June 18, 2014 at 6:40 am

Some advice, when you get out of a hot bath, DO IT SLOWLY to avoid passing out…then you wouldn’t have this problem.

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