Why is my hot tub making me itch? That was the exact question I asked few years ago until I found the solution. Do you take a dip in a hot tub after a hard day of work? Just like I do, or you like to sit in the bubbles to forget how stressful your day went? You are doing great by helping your sore muscles get the relief they need. It is always satisfying to give your entire nerves a good rest. But like what I experienced some years back, you might be wondering why you get itchy skin after using your hot tub.
According to The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC), itchy skin is one of the symptoms of hot tub rash and it’s caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Moreover, high level of bromine or chlorine in a hot tub causes itchy skin.
If your hot tub is making you itch, this post is for you. I had the same experience as I already stated, but it’s now a thing of the past. We now know how to prevent it from occurring. I will be sharing with you the culprits, causes, and how you can easily combat the itch and be free.
Can a hot tub make you itch?
Yes, the hot tub can make you itch, it is a fact that your skin might get a bit irritated after a dip in the hot tub. But this doesn’t mean you need to stay away from your hot tub. The best bet is finding out the cause(s) as I did. The next thing is finding out the ways of preventing and controlling to enjoy stress-free dips as I do now.
The causes of itchy skin after a dip
The two main culprits are:
- High level of sanitizers used in your hot tub (bromine and chlorine)
- poorly maintained hot tubs
Sanitizers used in the hot tub
The two culprits here are high-level bromine or chlorine in your hot tub; these are the two well-known sanitizers that are mostly used in killing bacteria that are present in the hot tub. But the side effects are great when they’re used more than the recommended range.
The fact is that when these two chemical levels are too high, you are bound to have an itch. The recommended level of sanitizer in a hot tub is between 1ppm and 3ppm for free chlorine or 3-5 ppm for bromine. Anything higher than this range will bring an itch and subsequently, if not arrested on time, brings a rash from scratching.
Another cause of that irritating itch after you sit in your hot tub is the state of your hot tub. The hygienic condition of your hot tub should be of utmost interest to you. If you do not provide adequate sanitation to your hot tub, then you are leaving a big room for malicious bacteria to invade it.
This will cause hot tub rash or Pseudomonas dermatitis/folliculitis. Hot tub folliculitis is a bacterial infection (p.aeruginosa) on the skin that makes it to itch. The truth is that this can still affect your skin even in a sanitized water. So, it is more about being hygienic with your hot tub to avoid this infection cropping up and giving you the infection thereafter.
Ways of handling hot tub itch
There are two ways of dealing with hot tub itch:
- preventive measures
The preventive measures are ways you will need to either stop the hot tub itch from happening to you or to avoid it happening again.
Prevention of high concentration of your hot tub sanitizers (Bromine and chlorine)
- The best way to always prevent having a high or too low concentration in your hot tub with your sanitizers (either bromine or chlorine) is to always use a test strip to have the correct measurement of your chemicals before applying them. The instruments to use are either chlorine tester/scale, or the bromine test kit. You need to only use the safe measurement for two sanitizers. The safe measurement is between 1ppm and 3ppm for free chlorine or 3–5 ppm for bromine.
- Don’t have a scratch even if your skin feels itchy to avoid escalating it
- Take a quick shower as you leave your hot tub. Remember, there was a sanitizer (bromine or chlorine) used, this bath will help wash away the residue of them from your skin especially if the concentration was already high.
- Try to check your hot tub chlorine or bromine levels regularly.
- Maintain a good pH level in your hot tub, the safe level is between 7.2 -7.8.
- Use a moisturizer, mostly after sitting in your hot tub, to prevent high or too low concentration itch.
- Don’t sit in your hot tub for too long, to avoid these chemicals from sucking out the moisture on your skin. Sitting in for about 15-30 minutes should be enough for you to prevent your skin from getting too dry and subsequently, having an itch.
Prevention of hot tub folliculitis
Hot tub folliculitis happens when the hot tub is not hygienic enough or not well maintained; of course, this brings about an itch on the skin. You can do the following to prevent this from happening:
- Vacuum the dirt on your hot tub.
- Sediment to avoid debris buildup
- Clean your hot tub regularly
- Avoid being in your damp swimsuit minutes after getting off your hot tub; just bath and wash your swimsuit to dry
- Always keep your swimsuit clean and dry. Avoid dumping it in damp areas.
- Don’t shave your hair and immediately get into your hot tub to avoid contamination.
- Always check your hot tub filters to be sure they are clean, you know having a clean filter helps to increase water quality
- Set your temperature right, avoid high temperature. So your temperature level should be 37.5 degrees Celsius, the highest should be 40 degrees Celsius. Anything higher than this will hurt your body. So always test your water temperature with a thermometer to ascertain this.
Treatment for hot tub itch
As we have stated the preventive measures above, the next thing is to know how to treat it if you are having itchy skin already. Perhaps, you bumped into this post because you need a remedy for your itchy skin. The following ways can help you have the relief you need.
Treatment for a high concentration of chemicals in your hot tub (bromine and chlorine)
If you realize that you are having a high level of either bromine or chlorine in your water depending on which you used, you can treat it by using either of these three methods:
Dilute the water
This is about draining some water from your hot tub and replacing it with fresh water. You can now re-add the chemicals but this time around, you need to be testing the water as you add to get the right recommendation. This is where you need your test kit. Use it to get the right measurement.
Use the outgas method
Allow your hot tub to stand for a while to allow the chemicals to evaporate on their own. So if your hot tub chemical level high, you need to stop using it to avoid an itch. You can allow for a day or two and don’t add any chemicals. The chemicals will naturally drop to the safe level on their own.
If you need to use your hot tub next, it is still possible. You can quicken things up by running the jets. Also remove the cover of the hot tub to let it have direct contact with the sun. The sunlight will help deplete the chemicals
This method will need you to purchase some neutralizing products to help neutralize the high quantity of chemicals you have used already. Depending on which you used you can go for a chlorine neutralizer or a bromine neutralizing product but one product that is common with these two is the sodium thiosulfate. This one can be used to neutralize these two chemicals.
Treatment for hot tub folliculitis
The second know cause of an itch from a hot tub is poor maintenance of your hot tub and this might bring about bacteria which the side effect will be an itch to the body. This might be the hot tub folliculitis. If this has happened to you already, it can still be controlled.
Hot tub folliculitis is caused by a bacteria known as pseudomonas aeruginosa. Oftentimes, it isn’t about sanitizing the hot tub because even in chemical-filled water, it can still survive in it. So if you don’t regularly treat your hot tub and keep it clean, you are more likely to have itchy skin after taking a dip in your hot tub.
The first symptom of hot tub folliculitis is itchy skin followed by red rashes. If you experience this, the immediate thing to do is to avoid using your hot tub, and then stay off it for about a week or two. These bacteria don’t survive for long on healthy skin. Leave it to see if it will resolve on its own, for the period you would refrain from a dip while taking care of your hot tub.
If it doesn’t resolve, then it time to book an appointment, especially if you notice the following symptoms:
- Your skin is red, swollen and painful.
- You have a fever that is above 38 degree Celsius.
- Or if the folliculitis is spreading fast.
Before meeting with the doctor you can try to relieve yourself from the itching and maybe improve healing by:
- applying warm compresses
- Using anti-itching creams or lotions.
- Using antibacterial creams to prevent secondary infection
- Using apple cider on the affected part.
You can then go ahead to see your doctor and get some medication to help alleviate your itch. You should be fine with the prescription of oral antibiotic medications as well as any good antibacterial ointments. The good news here is that you can heal from this infection without scarring.
So the best bet for you would be leaving the rash alone to heal. No need to pick at it. It will help heal faster and you would have no scarring.
Can I be allergic to the hot tub?
You can be allergic to the chemical used in the hot tub or bacteria present in your hot tub. An itch or bumpy rash on your skin is an indication that you are allergic to your hot tub.
How long should I stay in a hot tub to avoid having an itch?
Sitting in for about 15 minutes to 30 minutes is ideal. But if the temperature of the water is friendly enough, then taking up to 45 minutes wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Importance of having a soothing hot tub
Enjoy an enhanced sleep
You would have the needed improved sleep time. Having an itchy body can make it difficult for you to sleep. You need to resolve it as soon as possible to have the quality sleep you should have after a dip
Offers stress relief
The outstanding reason for sitting in a hot tub was to help you have that relief from the day’s stress. It would be a task when you are done and you start battling an itch, which might be very worrisome. So it is better to sit only in a hot tub that will not come with the aftereffect of an itch.
Well refreshed body
One of the essences of taking a dip or sitting in a hot tub is for relaxation which will help refresh the body. It can be frustrating to get out with an itch from the hot tub. This is why it is pertinent to resolve the issue with your hot tub that could elicit any itch after a dip. But if you are out without any issue the body would have been well refreshed.
It would be counter-productive to sit in the hot tub, which was to soothe your body then come out with an itchy skin. So it is better to prevent this from happening. This piece has highlighted the preventive measures that you need to take to avoid this problem. If you already have an itchy skin, you are still safe. Simply follow the suggested remedies as outlined above and it will be all over.