I’ve been doing experiments with various forms of heat since about 1985 when I was getting poison oak rashes. I was out searching for Sir Francis Drake’s buried treasure and that required being in places where there were abundant poison oak plants. I was very careful but got the invisible oil transferred onto my skin numerous times. That brings about two weeks of a rash with intense itching. The treatment that works best is first washing everything I carried into the field in a strong detergent like Tide, and that includes my skin. There are now some specialized detergents that claim not to be so harsh on the skin. The thing that really works best after the rash and itching shows up is a hairdryer. Blow hot air onto an itch until it just gives a flash of pain, about the level of clapping one hand loudly with the other. The flash of pain flips the switch on the itch. This procedure works on all surface itches.
I’ve done other experiments with heat which are also discussed on this blog, but one I’m currently observing is with infrared light and it appears that I have had some results worth mentioning. My hypothesis is that natural direct sunlight has infrared light (IR) that penetrates deep into the skin and that the skin and perhaps tissue deeper than the skin can perceive the infrared light.
The skin and body have evolved responses to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light to counter the observed destructive effects resulting from exposure to that form of light. Tanning is a response to UV light, and that is proof that the skin has evolved the ability to observe and respond to sunlight. An easy experiment to perform for yourself is to set up a standard 1500 watt IR home space heater on a table so you can place your face about 18 to 24 inches from it. The experiment is to rotate your face from left to right in about 8 seconds and return right to left in about 8 seconds with your lips and teeth closed. Observe that you can feel the IR heat on your tongue. Your lips and teeth haven’t heated up appreciably enough to give your tongue any sensation of heat. Also, you can leave a little air space between your teeth and your tongue. That will prevent any heat from being conducted by physical transfer from your teeth.
The point of this experiment is that you can easily feel the IR heat shining through your skin to your tongue. When I’ve tried this same experiment using the sun instead of the IR heater, I feel the outside of my skin heat up on the surface from visible light and UV light quickly, but my tongue has only a little heat feeling from the IR light from the sun. The glowing red IR heater has a higher percentage of IR light than the bright white of the sun’s sunlight.
It’s the IR light that penetrates through the skin and it’s the IR light that is sending the signal to the organs in the skin and the body to make an appropriate response. Some potentially positive responses have been an apparent clearing up of some modest arthritis in the affected joints in my fingers. In that experiment I included some capsaicin applied to the outside of the joints the day before the treatments, to let it sink into the joint. I’ve done this about once a week for about ten times and as I sit here flexing my fingers I haven’t the slightest sign of arthritis.
Another therapeutic experiment is exposing the left side of my face to IR, but not getting the skin hot, and only feeling the slight deeper warmth. I’ve tried doing this for about 10 minutes before going to bed because my left Eustachian tube itches in the night. I tend to sleep on my left side and that tube seems to get compressed and not drain properly. This IR treatment seems to have stopped the itching.
There are a few other experiments. But these particular ones are easy to do. But, remember to be careful because these are just ideas I’m playing with.