Thousands of American homeowners now enjoy the benefits of a hot tub, like one from California Home Spas & Patio, but it's important that people understand how to use these appliances safely. Like any other type of pool, it's critical that you make sure the water in your hot tub is sterile, or you are at increased risk of several recreational water illnesses. As the name suggests, hot tub rash is a problem that some people may experience after a session in one of these luxury appliances. Learn more about the causes and symptoms of the illness, and what you need to do to protect your family from hot tub rash.
About the disease
Hot tub rash is a skin infection that is also called folliculitis. The condition is a bacterial infection, which occurs when the germ Pseudomonas aeruginosa contaminates the water in your hot tub. You can normally find this germ in water and soil, but the germs can develop when you don't adequately sterilize the water in your hot tub. The bacteria are particularly common in wooden hot tubs.
The symptoms of hot tub rash can appear within several hours of exposure to contaminated water, but they may also not appear for several days. You will normally see an itchy, red rash to start with, but this will change as the infection sets in.
The rash can sometimes turn into dark red, tender nodules, and you may also start to see pus-filled bumps. Very often, the bumps resemble acne, and you're more likely to see more symptoms under your swimsuit, where your skin has been in contact with the water for longer.
Diagnosis and treatment
Doctors don't generally need to carry out tests to confirm that you have the infection. When a doctor finds out that you have used a hot tub, he or she will normally diagnose folliculitis straight away. Hot tub rash doesn't often need treatment, although your doctor may recommend some anti-itch medicine to ease the discomfort.
In some severe cases, you may need a special antibiotic to get rid of the disease. If you suffer a very bad infection, the nodules could lead to an abscess, which could cause more serious complications.
Hot tub itch will normally go away without causing scars, but it's important not to use the hot tub until the infection has completely healed.
Keeping hot tub water sterile
The temperature of the water in your hot tub does not actually kill the germs that cause hot tub rash. In fact, warm water causes the bacteria to grow faster. As such, hot tub owners need to take a number of precautions to keep the water sterile.
Add the right amount of pool chlorine to your hot tub water, according to the manufacturer's instructions. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control recommend that chlorine in hot tub water should stay between two and four parts per million. The pH level should stay between 7.2 and 7.8. Increased acidity stops the chlorine working effectively.
Test the water with pool test strips before you use the hot tub. Large volumes of foam may suggest that you have contaminated water, and you should aim to completely replace the water at least once every two months. You should also aim to clean the filter at least once every six months, and replace the part according to the manufacturer's instructions.
The bacteria that cause folliculitis can also live in a dirty swimsuit. Shower before you use the hot tub, then remove your swimsuit after every session, and shower with soap again. Wash your swimsuit after each session, and allow the garment to dry naturally. Make sure that children understand that it is not hygienic to urinate in the water, too. Chlorine reacts with organic materials like urine and loses its disinfecting abilities.
A session in the hot tub is a great way to ease tension and relax, but it's important to keep the water sterile. With the right maintenance and sensible precautions, hot tub owners should enjoy many hours of disease-free fun.