Hot tubs are both fun and relaxing. Many fans love using them to socialize. However, the next time you climb into one, you might encounter an uninvited guest.

Hot tub rash


What’s Hot Tub Rash?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s a skin infection also known as folliculitis and Pseudomonas dermatitis. Anybody who’s had it will remember itchy spots on the surface of the skin that turned into a red rash worse in areas covered by a wet bathing suit.


In the severest cases, blisters filled with pus form around hair follicles. Developing an abscess is a rare complication.


What Causes It?

The culprit behind that uninvited friend in the hot tub is the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. This hardy bacteria thrives in hot tubs, particularly wooden ones, due to their warmth and dampness.


Areas under cloth usually develop a thicker rash because the fabric in the individual’s bathing suit brings the skin into contact with bacteria-filled water longer than non-covered areas are exposed.


The Good News

It’s fairly easy to protect against hot tub rash. If you’re a hot tub owner, we recommend these simple tips from the CDC:


  • Regularly check disinfectant and pH levels of the hot tub. You should check more frequently when a lot of people use the device.
  • Remove any slime or biofilm layer from devices, including hot tub covers, by scrubbing and cleaning with chlorine or other disinfectant.
  • Replace the hot tub water filter according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Regularly replace the water.

Fortunately, many cases of hot tub rash resolve on their own. For those that require treatment, says these are common therapies:


  • Home therapy using bacterial washes with over-the-counter products like benzoyl peroxide twice daily for mild cases.
  • Soaking the area in a tub of white vinegar diluted 1:4 with water or in a full tub of water to which you’ve added ¼ cup of bleach.
  • For stubborn cases, your doctor might recommend antibacterial washes or topical and/or oral antibiotics.

Be sure to shed your suit, shower promptly with soap and clean your swimsuit each time you use a hot tub.


Happy Tubbing!
Ethel Elliott


Ethel Elliott

Written by Ethel Elliott. +Ethel writes about all things backyard with a focus on replacement hot tub spa covers. You can also chat with Ethel on Twitter! Follow this author on Twitter