This is embarrassing, so I’m not going to name any names. But a certain relative of mine was recently infected with itchy skin and red bumps after a long, lazy soak in our cabin’s hot tub.
Yuck, huh? It got worse the next day. Let’s just say that we were out and about in Pigeon Forge and the poor thing was trying like anything not to itch in awkward spots. It wasn’t pretty. She grabbed some antibiotic ointment, which seemed to help. (While applying it hastily in the bathroom at the outlets, she put down her cell phone and forgot it. But that’s another story.) The rash bothered her for a few days.
I decided to look into this phenomenon. Could she really have gotten the rash from the hot tub?
The answer is yes. Hot tub rash (it’s real, grown-up name is Pseudomonas dermatitis / Folliculitis) is actually quite common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hot tub rash manifests itself in an itchy red rash and pus-filled blisters around hair follicles. Some things you may need to know:
- Because hot tubs are warm, chlorine and other chemicals break down faster. That gives the germ causing the rash free reign in the water. This is especially true when you sit in the water for long periods of time. (Which is the whole point of a hot tub, if you ask me.)
- You can get hot tub rash other ways, too, from a swimming pool, lake, water slide or even your loofah sponge in the shower!
- Hot tub rash can affect people of all ages. But kids seem to get it more often than adults. Yet another reason to be cautious with kids and a hot tub.
- It’s not contagious. You won’t get it by coming into contact with someone’s rash.
- Usually, you get hot tub rash in an area that was covered by a bathing suit. Now, isn’t that convenient? Those are all the places you don’t want to itch in public…
So, how can you prevent it? Here are some ideas:
- Take off your swimsuit, then shower with soap after using a hot tub.
- Wash your suit before wearing again.
- Make sure that the hot tub you’re using is well maintained. For optimal germ-free-ness, hot tubs should be checked twice a day. Most cabin companies don’t offer this frequent of service. But I will say that I’ve soaked in a lot of cabin hot tubs and haven’t ever experienced hot tub rash.
What do you do if you have it?
- Most rashes will clear up in a few days. But if yours isn’t gone 10 days later, consult your doctor. In rare cases, skin abscesses may form and you may need an antibiotic.
- The rash may leave your skin slightly discolored for a few months. This is normal.
- The rash may cause you to be more tired than normal.
- About.com recommends using vinegar compresses up to four times a day for 20 minutes, if the itching is bad.
- Silver sulfadiazine cream may also help.