Do hot tubs cause skin rashes?

No. Hot tubs don’t cause skin rashes. Bacteria does. If bacteria is growing in the water, that means the hot tub hasn’t been sanitized properly.

What is hot tub rash?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “hot tub rash” is an infection caused by the bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa, most often found in wood hot tubs.

If you are exposed to this bacterium in warm water over a long period of time, you are more likely to get hot tub rash, also known as hair folliculitis. It usually shows up within a few days after soaking in the hot tub and appears as a bumpy, red rash or blisters filled with pus around the hair follicles. The rash may appear thicker in areas underneath the swimsuit where the water was in contact with the skin for a longer period of time. In rare cases, the rash can cause abscesses on the skin.

Hair folliculitis usually goes away on its own within a few days. If it doesn’t, you should see your health practitioner. An anti-itch cream is usually enough to treat the rash. However, for severe cases, your healthcare provider may prescribe an antibiotic.

How to prevent hot tub rash

Don’t worry, preventing hair folliculitis is easy, especially in your personal spa at home. Test your chlorine content and pH levels weekly, and add chemicals as needed to keep your spa water in balance. We recommend 2 to 4 ppm (parts per million) of chlorine or 4 to 6 ppm of bromine and a pH level of 7.4 to 7.6. Clean the hot tub shell when necessary and clean and replace the filters on schedule. As long as you follow the guidelines for regular hot tub water care, you should be able to prevent infection.

How to prevent hot tub rash from a public hot tub

If you plan to visit a hotel or other public hot tub, bring test strips with you. A quick dip and you’ll know whether the water is balanced and the chemicals are doing their job to keep the water clean.

Learn even more when you download our Simple Tricks for Sparkling Clear Hot Tub Water.

Last but not least, always remember to take off your swimsuit, shower with soap, and rinse your swimsuit after you enjoy your hot tub soak.