It’s been a hot summer in Indiana, and thanks to the reality of climate change, sweat-before-you-get-to-your-car degree temperatures don’t appear to be leaving anytime soon. While this may mean more pool days and sunshine for most, it can mean something much worse for an annoyingly large segment of the population. By “something much worse,” I (of course) am referring to heat rash, eczema and a plethora of other forms of Atopic dermatitis that are worsened by extreme temperatures. Speaking from exceedingly personal experience, September’s extension of swimsuit weather is nothing short of unpleasant when dealing with skin irritation on the feet, legs, arms, back, etc. However, there may be glimmer of hope for those of us who have been doomed to a life of overtly sensitive skin; a glimmer originating from nonother than the stainless-steel handle of a cryotherapy tank.
While cryotherapy is often associated with its beneficial effects on the muscular system, its impact goes far beyond that. According to a group of doctors in Finland, cold temperatures are shown “to reduce the conduction velocity of peripheral nerves and the nerve ganglia capacity to synthesize acetylcholine, which is considered a neurotransmitter in atopic pruritus.” If you’re anything like me, you have no idea what that means — let me break it down. Under extremely cold temperatures, aspects of the body’s nervous system become less able to receive signals that cause inflammation. Basically, the cold causes your neurotransmitters to say “no thanks!” and turn in for the day, meaning they won’t be receiving the body’s messages to itch or become inflamed. As great as they are, these findings are nothing short of predictable. Cryotherapy has been used to treat rheumatic inflammation and pain since the 1970s, so its only feasible that the skin would be receptive to these benefits as well.
Cryotherapy’s effect on various forms of Atopic dermatitis go beyond the obvious soothing of pain and inflammation. The aforementioned Finnish study noted that “very cold air has been reported to increase the body’s antioxidative capacity.” That’s great and all, but what do antioxidants have to do with your pesky rash? Evidently, a decent amount! A study published in The Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research found that antioxidants may be beneficial in the treatment of Atopic dermatitis. So – for those of you keeping track – cryotherapy boosts antioxidant levels which aid in combatting inflamed skin.
I know what you’re thinking. So cryotherapy can really benefit my joints, muscles, mood AND skin? REALLY? Well, to put it shortly, yes! Cryotherapy has an incredibly wide span of benefits, and though you should certainly consult your dermatologist, ice cold temperatures can play an essential role on your journey to soft, swimsuit-ready skin for the rest of the summer.