Hot Tub Rash (Pseudomonas Dermatitis/Folliculitis)
If contaminated water comes in contact with a person’s skin for a long period of time, it can cause a rash called hot tub rash, or dermatitis. Hot tub rash is often caused by infection with the germ Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This germ is common in the environment (for example, in the water and soil) and is microscopic, so it can’t be seen with the naked eye.
Symptoms of hot tub rash appear within a few days of swimming and include:
- Itchy spots on the skin that become a bumpy red rash.
- The rash is worse in areas that were previously covered by a swimsuit.
- Pus-filled blisters around hair follicles.
Hot tub rash can affect people of all ages. Most rashes clear up in a few days without medical treatment. However, if your rash lasts longer than a few days, consult your health care provider.
Hot tub rash can occur if contaminated water comes in contact with skin for a long period of time. The rash usually appears within a few days of being in a poorly maintained hot tub (or spa), but it can also appear within a few days after swimming in a poorly maintained pool or contaminated lake.
Because hot tubs have warmer water than pools, chlorine or other disinfectants used to kill germs (like Pseudomonas aeruginosa) break down faster. This can increase the risk of hot tub rash infection for swimmers.
To reduce the risk of hot tub rash:
- Remove your swimsuit and shower with soap after getting out of the water.
- Clean your swimsuit after getting out of the water.
- Ask your pool/hot tub operator if disinfectant (for example, chlorine) and pH levels are checked regularly — hot tubs and pools with good disinfectant and pH control are less likely to spread germs.
Do you suspect that you have a foodborne or waterborne illness? Visit reporting suspected foodborne/waterborne illnesses.