Preventing Hot Tub Rash

Key points

  • If contaminated water stays on someone's skin for a long time, it can cause a rash known as "hot tub rash" (Pseudomonas folliculitis).
  • Hot tub rash is caused by the germ Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is commonly found in the environment (for example, in water or soil).

Symptoms of hot tub rash

Hot tub rash usually appears a few days after sitting in a poorly maintained hot tub.

Hot tub rash can affect people of all ages. It is often worse in areas where a swimsuit held contaminated water up against the skin. Symptoms include:

  • Itchy, red, and bumpy rash
  • Pus-filled blisters around hair follicles

Mild rashes usually clear up in a few days without medical treatment. Check with your healthcare provider if a rash gets worse or if you get it more than once.

Prevention steps and strategies

To reduce the risk of hot tub rash

  • Remove your swimsuit and shower with soap after getting out of the water, especially hot tubs.
  • Wash your swimsuit after using it.
  • Use test strips to check the water, especially in hot tubs, for adequate disinfectant level and pH. CDC recommends the following disinfectant and pH levels for hot tubs:
    • Chlorine: 3–10 parts per million (ppm or mg/L) or bromine 4–8 ppm
    • pH: 7.0–7.8

If chlorine level, bromine level, or pH is not within the correct range, tell the operator or owner immediately.