An interview with Dr Maria Letizia D’Errigo, a physician specialising in dermatology, venereology and medical hydrology, National Manager of the ISPLAD (International-Italian Society of Plastic, Regenerative and Oncological Dermatology) thermal spas and beauty farms (marialetiziaderrigo.it). Edited by Luisa Taliento.
What happens to our body when we enter a Hammam, the steam bath in which the temperature reaches about 45°C with relative humidity of around 100%?
The high temperature and humidity in the Hammam provoke sweating which in turn causes the expulsion of uric acid and toxins, improving the filtering action of the kidneys, favouring hydration of the prime respiratory tracts and making the skin more elastic and glowing. The high humidity and heavy sweating stimulate cellular turnover as, when the cells of the horny layer of the epidermis become saturated with sweat, they detach more easily, making the skin softer and smoother.
For what skin types is it recommended?
While the Hammam is recommended for all skin types, it is especially beneficial for dry, flaky skin.
Can the dilation of the blood vessels and improved blood circulation caused by the heat contribute to the reduction of cellulite?
The heat provokes peripheral dilation of the blood vessels, exercising the venules and capillaries. This stimulates the circulation and, as the pores of the skin open up, toxins are eliminated. This is an excellent remedy for people suffering from cellulite, resulting in smoothing out of the skin and the fact that the body draws on its fat reserves to recover the energy consumed.
Can you apply oil, lotions or other treatments before or after the steam bath to further improve its beneficial effects?
It is not always necessary to apply oily substances to the skin during the Hammam, although use of an olive and eucalyptus oil-based soap together with an exfoliating glove after about ten minutes, the time necessary for the steam to dilate the pores, can aid the cleansing of the skin. A new treatment is use of a scrub based on white Carrara marble powder consisting of calcium carbonate, 99% of which is of non-water-soluble white Carrara marble powder. Applying this with a gentle massaging action can considerably improve skin exfoliation. This is the same marble that ever since ancient times has been used as a cladding for the most luxurious Hammams. Emulsions and perfumed oils applied after the steam treatment can add to the benefits of a massage and keep the skin more hydrated.
As well as skin care, what other benefits does the Hammam provide for both body and mind?
The additional benefits are that the Hammam treatment releases muscular tension, relaxes the mind and produces endorphins, contributing to all round physical and mental wellbeing.