HOME > Red light therapy knowledge

What are the side effects of near infrared light?

Near infrared (NIR) light therapy is an emerging treatment that exposes the body to low levels of red and near infrared light. It has gained popularity due to potential benefits like wound healing, pain relief, and anti-aging effects. However, as with any therapy, it’s important to understand the possible side effects and safety precautions. Let’s shine some light on the potential side effects of near infrared light.

What are the side effects of near infrared light?

What is Near Infrared Light Therapy?

Near infrared light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, with wavelengths from 700-1000nm. This range is just outside of what’s visible to the human eye. But just because we cannot see near infrared light does not mean it holds no power over us.

Heat lamps, night vision goggles, and even our trusty TV remotes make use of invisible near infrared light waves to illuminate our world. In the medical field, near infrared light therapy has been studied for decades as a potential treatment for a myriad of conditions, primarily due to its apparent ability to stimulate the mitochondria and boost ATP energy production in cells.

NIR devices come in various forms like LED pads, light boxes, and lasers. Most are portable, allowing treatment at home. Sessions typically last 10-30 minutes at a time, with varying frequency.

What is Near Infrared Light Therapy?

How Does Near Infrared Light Therapy Work?

Now you might be wondering, how can simple light waves have any effect inside our bodies? Near infrared photons have energies too weak to incite chemical changes like higher frequency UV rays. Instead, theories suggest near infrared light works through a process called photobiomodulation.

Photobiomodulation describes light’s ability to modulate cellular function in beneficial ways.

When near infrared wavelengths penetrate the skin and underlying tissues, the light photons interact with cellular photoacceptors. These include mitochondrial chromophores like cytochrome c oxidase.

Absorption of photons alters cellular redox activity, increasing mitochondrial respiration and ATP synthesis. This provides more energy for cellular metabolic processes.

NIR also stimulates reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, which at low levels can trigger protective cell signaling responses. ROS are involved in growth, proliferation, and defense against pathogens.

Anti-inflammatory effects of NIR may occur through reduced oxidative stress and increased antioxidant capacity. The light seems to limit overproduction of inflammation-promoting cytokines.

In summary, NIR boosts mitochondrial energy metabolism, alters redox balance, and modulates inflammation. Through these mechanisms, it can enhance tissue repair and encourage overall cellular health.

Potential Benefits of Near Infrared Light Therapy

Based on the proposed mechanisms and research, near infrared light therapy shows potential benefits for a diverse array of conditions:

  • Wound healing – NIR exposure has been shown to help accelerate closure and healing of surface wounds and reduce scar tissue. This is thought to be due to increased blood flow, formation of fibroblasts, and collagen production.
  • Joint and muscle pain – By reducing inflammation and enhancing tissue repair, NIR light may help relieve pain from conditions like osteoarthritis and temporomandibular joint disorders. It can also aid recovery after exercise.
  • Hair loss – Low level laser light on the scalp may stimulate follicle growth and help treat pattern baldness. However results are mixed.
  • Neurological damage – Animal studies indicate NIR light can stimulate nerve regeneration and improve function after stroke or traumatic brain injuries. Human research is still limited.
  • Cognitive function – There is some preliminary evidence that NIR light directed at the forehead area may improve alertness, focus, and cognition. But larger trials are needed.
  • Parkinson’s disease – Exposure to NIR light appears to help alleviate motor and non-motor symptoms in some Parkinson’s patients.
  • Seasonal affective disorder – Shining bright light in the NIR spectrum on areas of skin may lift mood and boost energy levels during the darker winter months.
  • Anti-Aging – NIR light may help reduce wrinkles, smooth skin texture, and improve facial circulation for an anti-aging effect.
  • Weight Loss – Exposure to NIR may help break down fat cells and increase metabolic rate. When combined with exercise, it seems to augment calorie burning. Some researchers think these effects make NIR a promising non-invasive fat reduction aid.

Potential Side Effects of Near Infrared Light Therapy

Near infrared light therapy is generally very safe, with a low risk of adverse effects when used properly. However, a few possible side effects have been reported:

  • Mild Skin Irritation – Some individuals may experience tingling, itching, redness or dryness after NIR treatment. This tends to resolve quickly on its own. Slowly building up duration of exposure can help skin adjust.
  • Photosensitivity – There are concerns that NIR could make some people more prone to sunburns or skin damage from visible light, due to effects on melanin. Protective eyewear and sunscreen are recommended.
  • Fatigue – Excessive near infrared exposure may disrupt circadian rhythms and overstimulate the thyroid. This can result in tiredness, problems sleeping, and body clock disruption. Conservative treatment times are advised.
  • Heating Effect – At very high intensities, NIR radiation can cause a heating effect in skin and tissues. This is why power outputs on devices are controlled. Use as directed to avoid burns.
  • Eye Damage – Never look directly at a near infrared light source. Short term exposure can cause corneal injuries or cataracts. Always wear protective goggles.

So NIR therapy appears very tolerable for most people when applied correctly. Just take sensible precautions like wearing eye protection, avoiding overuse, and monitoring skin and eye health. Discuss any concerns with your doctor, especially pre-existing conditions that may interact like lupus or diabetes.

Recommendations for Safe Near Infrared Light Therapy Use

To minimize risk of side effects, keep these tips in mind:

  • Verify safety first – Discuss your medical history and all medications with your doctor to catch any contradictions before starting.
  • Use high quality devices – Consumer LED gadgets are less regulated. Opt for professional-grade devices cleared for safety and effectiveness by the FDA.
  • Follow protocols – Carefully adhere to device recommendations on treatment times and dosage schedules to avoid overdoing it.
  • Protect your eyes – Wear provided safety goggles during treatments to shield your eyes from intense near infrared light exposure.
  • Monitor overheating – Keep an eye out for excessive warming and allow rest periods to maintain safe tissue temperatures under 40°C.
  • Note reactions – Watch for unusual responses like redness, swelling, or increased pain/itching and adjust protocols as needed.
  • Be patient – Effects build gradually so don’t crank up treatments seeking instant results. Stick with recommended regimens.
  • Communicate concerns – Keep your provider informed of any side effects so protocols can be tailored to you.

Used judiciously, near infrared light therapy may have restorative potential without nasty side effects. But unrestricted treatment risks cellular instability, overheating, and abnormal tissue growth if doses become excessive. Follow sensible safety precautions, stay conservative with dosing, and work with a knowledgeable provider to maximize your chances of lighting up healing, without igniting harm.


The future looks bright for near infrared light as an accessible home therapy. Let it guide you gently towards better health – just be smart about basking in its glow! With simple precautions, you’ll be able to reap the benefits while avoiding any shadows of side effects.


Published by reddotled.com (Repost Tips)