A sauna suit is a garment made from waterproof fabric designed to make the wearer sweat profusely. A sauna suit is sometimes called a "rubber suit" because the early types were made of rubber or rubberized cloth. Now, sauna suits are typically made of PVC or coated nylon cloth. The construction is typically in the style of a waterproof sweat suit, consisting of a pullover jacket and drawstring pants. The closures at waist, neck, wrists and ankles are all elasticated to help retain body heat and moisture within the garment. In some sauna suits, the jacket also includes a hood to provide additional retention of body heat.
A sauna suit is commonly worn during physical exercise as an aid to weight loss, for example by boxers, MMA fighters or wrestlers, who wish to qualify for a specific weight class. The body temperature elevation and the profuse sweating induced by wearing the suit cause a rapid loss in body weight by loss of water. Because of this dehydration effect, sauna suits should be used with great caution. The body temperature elevation and water loss while wearing a sauna suit can lead to the possibility of heat stroke and dehydration, in extreme cases causing death. Thus, a sauna suit should not be worn while doing extreme exercise or in hot conditions. A sauna suit is not intended for use in a sauna.
Some clothing suppliers assert that the use of a sauna suit accelerates weight loss in exercise by an increase in metabolic rate. Others disagree, and indicate that the only significant effect is temporary water loss that is immediately reversed by subsequent drinking of water. A possible effect of wearing a sauna suit is that it may encourage the wearer to do physical exercise. The increase in body heat from wearing a sauna suit gives the impression of getting "a good workout".
Sauna suits are also worn for body wrapping in some health spas. The wearer is first wrapped in bandages saturated with mineral and/or herbal preparations and then covered with a sauna suit. The objective of this process is to enable the wearer to "sweat out toxins", however there is little scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of this practice. Sauna suits are often worn specifically for such sweat excretion rather for exercise or weight loss.
A medical use for a sauna suit is in the treatment of psoriasis, an inflammation of the skin causing itchiness and discomfort. The symptoms of psoriasis can be relieved by use of ointments and by keeping the skin moist. The wearing of a sauna suit helps to retain skin moisture and to prevent the ointment from leaking out and staining other clothing, furniture or bedding. In medical literature, a sauna suit is also called an "occlusion suit".