Have you noticed bumpy, itchy red spots after using your hot tub? Maybe it’s been a few hours or even a few days; either way, there’s a good chance your hot tub water is the cause. In this article, we’ll look at the different types of rashes you could get from a hot tub, how to treat each situation, and how to prevent them moving forward.
What is hot tub rash?
Hot tub rash can result from a couple of different things, usually either irritant dermatitis due to sensitivity to water care products like chlorine and bromine or folliculitis. In both cases, we recommend to stop using your hot tub until you can confirm what’s causing the skin irritation.
Folliculitis is a common skin infection that happens when hair follicles become inflamed. Regarding your hot tub, it happens when a hot tub’s water is contaminated with bacteria, usually caused by an improper water care routine or lack of sanitizer (chlorine or bromine) in the hot tub water.
Signs and symptoms of hot tub rash
The most common sign of a hot tub rash is an itchy, red and bumpy rash. With folliculitis, it’s usually worse in areas where a swimsuit is in contact with the skin and in more severe cases, the red dots may more closely resemble pimples or blisters and can become pus-filled.
Mild hot tub rashes usually go away in a few days without treatment if left alone - it’s important not to scratch them. If the rash gets worse or appears infected, consult your healthcare provider. To be confident in whether you’re dealing with chemical sensitivity or folliculitis, you’ll also need to consult your healthcare provider.
How to clean your hot tub if you’ve confirmed folliculitis
If you have a confirmed folliculitis case from your hot tub, we recommend taking the following steps to ensure you and anyone else using the hot tub are safe.
What you'll need
- wet/dry vacuum
- clorine-based cleaning solution or bleach and a rag
- Replacement filter(s) or soaking filter cleaner and bucket
- Ahhsome Hot Tub cleaner
- test strips
- sanitizer (chlorine or bromine)
- Additional balancing chemicals (alka up, pH down, etc.) depending on test strip results
- Add 1” of fresh water to your hot tub.
- Ensure the water is balanced with alkalinity between 80-120 and pH is 7.6 or below.
- Turn off all blowers in your hot tub and open all jets and waterfall (if applicable).
- Raise the sanitizer (chlorine or bromine) level to 10ppm according to the directions on the chemical label.
- Circulate the water by turning on all pumps for 40 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, turn on the air valves for 1 minute and then turn them back off; repeat this process 5 times to ensure all jet components have been thoroughly flushed.
- Flush the hot tub plumbing with Ahhsome Hot Tub cleaner (follow directions on the packaging).
Note: You can usually clean your filters in the hot tub while flushing the lines with Ahhsome, but you should not do this when cleaning a hot tub with folliculitis.
- Either replace your filter(s) or clean them with a soaking filter cleaner (do not use the spray-on filter cleaner). After cleaning your filter(s), rinse them thoroughly and soak them in water with your sanitizer added for two hours (e.g. dissolve 1 tablespoon of chlorine granules into 5 gallons of water). Don’t add them back to your hot tub yet.
- Empty your hot tub water completely.
- After emptying your hot tub, use a wet/dry vacuum to blow out the jets and ensure no water remains in the plumbing.
- Wipe down your hot tub with a mild chlorine-based cleaner or use a solution of 10 parts water and 1 part bleach; rinse well after.
- Wipe down the underside of your hot tub cover with the solution you used in the previous step.
- Refill your hot tub with fresh water and install your new or cleaned filter(s).
- Balance the water according to our Hot Tub Water Care Card, and bring your sanitizer (chlorine or bromine) level to 10ppm.
- Run your hot tub overnight (8-12 hours) and retest the water.
- If there’s sanitizer remaining in the hot tub, you’ve likely removed the bacteria.
- If the sanitizer has been used up, then you have bacteria, and you’ll need to shock your hot tub according to the directions on your spa shock packaging.
Note: You may need to repeat the steps above to remove the bacteria.
How to prevent hot tub rash
If the rash is due to chemical sensitivity, we highly recommend trying Spa Solution. Spa Solution is a natural conditioning formula that reduces the effects of harsh chemicals and helps with skin and eye irritation. You can also try a mineral cartridge like Nature2 or Jacuzzi ProClear to lower your dependency on harsh chemicals.
If the rash is folliculitis, the key to prevention is maintaining proper water chemistry and keeping your hot tub clean; a regular water care routine is the foundation.
Unbalanced pH, hard water, and low sanitizer (chlorine or bromine) levels are common factors that lead to bacterial growth and are often the root cause of folliculitis. Besides checking the chemistry of your water, it’s also important to clean your filter regularly to remove the contaminants it’s captured.