Hot Tub Rash: All You Need To Know

Hot tub rash goes by many names: spa pool folliculitis, hot tub folliculitis, dermatitis, and pseudomonas folliculitis are just a few.  It is classified by a series of itchy, red bumps along the skin that can look like chicken pox, and white inflamed blisters along the hair follicles that look like pimples.  It is common to find hot tub rash on skin that was covered by a swimming suit, as the fabric traps the water against the skin.  It is not contained only to hot tubs, and you can get hot tub rash from swimming in contaminated pools and lakes.  It can appear immediately after swimming, or it can take 2-5 days to appear on the skin.  Hot tub rash is more common in children, as they spend more time in the water, and are less likely to wash themselves off after swimming.  

What Causes Hot Tub Rash?

Hot tub rash is caused by a bacteria called Pseudomonas folliculitis that can grow in hot tubs, lakes, and pools that are not properly sanitized.  The bacteria can thrive in jets or on the biofilm on the hot tub itself.  It is common to get hot tub rash on your skin that was directly exposed to the hot tub jets, as the pressurized water shoots the bacteria directly into your pores.  

What Do You Do If You Have Hot Tub Rash?

For most people, hot tub rash will go away on its own without any help.  You should avoid scratching or popping the bumps as it can cause scarring.  You can use vinegar to wash the rash, or treat it with a topical anti-itch cream.  If the rash persists after a few days, visit your doctor to be prescribed an antibiotic cream or drug to help get rid of the infection.  

How Do You Prevent Hot Tub Rash?

Hot tub rash is easily preventable.  Make sure that the chemical levels in your hot tub or spa are properly balanced, chlorine should be at 2–4 parts per million (ppm), bromine at 4–6 ppm and pH levels should be between 7.2–7.8. After swimming, make sure to wash your body and swimming suit with soap to prevent hot tub rash.  Check your chemicals twice per day on days that you swim to ensure that they are properly balanced.  Chlorine will break apart faster in hot tubs due to the extreme temperature, so you need to be more vigilant in checking the chemicals in your hot tub than you would in your pool.  Bromine is more stable at higher temperatures than chlorine, but you still should be consistent in checking the chemicals in your hot tub no matter what system you have.

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