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Hot Tub Folliculitis and How to Avoid It


Did you recently determine that your skin is sensitive to the warm water in your hot tub? You may find that you get an itchy, pimply, red rash following the use of your hot tub. This rash is often called hot tub folliculitis or more commonly “hot tub rash.”

There are several possible reasons that you might have contracted the hot tub rash. Not all of those reasons are due to bacteria. In fact, the majority of hot tub rashes are caused by the chemicals traditionally used to prevent hot tub folliculitis in the first place.

What is Hot Tub Folliculitis?

Folliculitis in hair folicleFolliculitis, simply put, is the inflammation of a hair follicle. Sometimes, the inflammation is infectious in nature. These infections get caused by all sorts of different bacteria, most commonly the notorious Staphylococcus aureus. They can also be caused by yeasts, viruses, and even parasites.

Other times, it is not entirely clear what’s causing the inflammation. It can be caused by something as simple as too much moisturizer clogging the follicle. You have probably heard of acne. Well, believe it or not, that is a type of folliculitis, too.

Hot tubs are also full of toxic chemicals that we add to keep the water clean and clear. Combined with the warm turbulent water these chemicals often irritate people’s skin in a way that looks just like hot tub folliculitis or hot tub rash.

What Causes Hot Tub Rash?

Hot tub folliculitis is a very specific term. It refers to a type of folliculitis caused by using a hot tub. As stated above bacteria can be a cause of this hot tub rash. In most cases, the suspect bacteria by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. P. aeruginosa is primarily contracted in public hot tubs, such as those found at hotels, gyms, and public swimming facilities. Fortunately, this type of bacteria can’t survive on human skin for very long. That is why this problem usually only occurs after soaking in contaminated warm water for a long period of time. This type of bacteria especially loves damp wood. While infection can happen after soaking in any kind of contaminated hot water, wooden hot tubs tend to be higher risk.

Now, a hot tub rash can be caused by more than just bacteria. Simple contact dermatitis, or an itchy red rash not caused by any kind of pathogen, can be caused by chemicals in the water or the temperature of the water. These rashes are often incorrectly diagnosed as being caused by a bacterial infection of P. aeruginosa. Or a doctor may prescribe a bacterial treatment just to cover all bases.

What Does Hot Tub Folliculitis Look Like?

Hot tub Folliculitis

Hot tub rash, in fact just about any type of folliculitis, usually looks like a bunch of little bumps scattered across your skin, sometimes with surrounding redness. To the untrained eye, it probably looks exactly like a teenager’s acne but on the body instead of the face. It is very important not to poke at or try to pop the pimply bumps yourself. This can cause a spread of the infection. Don’t scratch! The best way to deal with hot tub folliculitis when you have it is to just leave it alone until you get in and see a doctor. Most cases are mild and will disappear after just a few days.

A noninfectious hot tub rash likely will not have those kinds of bumps. Instead, it will look like a flat plane of red and slightly swollen skin. It might feel more like a chemical burn rather than a rash. However, the difference is often hard to determine unless the rash is tested for the specific bacteria. Hot tub rash caused by sensitivity to hot tub chemicals will also disappear after just a few days. However, you should use your own judgment to determine whether to see a doctor during that period.

It is often the case that if a group of two or more people used the same hot tub and contracted the same rash the hot tub folliculitis was probably caused by the introduction of the bacteria to the tub. If only one person in the group contracted the hot tub rash after using the hot tub it is likely a chemical sensitivity rather than bacteria caused.

What Are the Symptoms of Hot Tub Rash?

Most often, it just itches a lot. Sometimes it can be painful, too, which might be a sign of a more developed infection. In those circumstances, the infection’s little pus-filled acne-like bumps can turn hard and red. If that happens, you should seek treatment. A skin sensitivity to hot tub chemicals may display the same type of symptoms however, often it feels a bit like a sunburn. In most cases, the hot tub rash will appear on parts of your body converted by your swimsuit rather than all over.

How to Treat Hot Tub Rash

The good news is that, because the bacteria can’t usually survive on your skin for long, a bacterial caused hot tub rash should pass within a few days in mild cases. That being said, be sure to check with your doctor if you have any doubt whatsoever. More severe cases are going to require antibiotics or antiseptic cleanses. The antibiotics in question will need to cover gram-negative bacteria like P. aeruginosa. This can vary by a lot depending on your own unique circumstances. You can discuss the exact treatment you need with your doctor or another healthcare professional.

If you determine that your hot tub rash is the result of the chlorine or bromine used in your tub, it should go away is just a few days. You should see a healthcare professional if in your judgment it is required. In the meantime, you will need to stay out of the tub until you can treat the tub in a manner that avoids the chemicals to which you are sensitive.

How to Avoid Hot Tub Folliculitis

There are a few helpful tricks you can use to avoid this type of hot tub folliculitis. The easiest way to avoid the infection is probably just taking off your swimsuit after bathing. Why? It is not a good idea to lounge around in your damp clothes after your soak in the hot tub. Your soaked swimsuit seals in both moisture and chemicals or bacteria, giving them a longer period to irritate your skin. You can also, shower off before entering the hot tub and then showering off when you get out as well. This will help wash off any bacteria that may be on you that you could inadvertently introduce to the tub as well as remove the chlorine from your skin when you get out.

The absolute best way to avoid infection, though, is to maintain your hot tub and not introduce bacteria to it in the first place.

Here are some options for treating your hot tub to avoid hot tub folliculitis

Traditional Hot Tub Chemical Approach

Bromine Hot tub

If you are not sensitive to chlorine or bromine and not concerned with the health effects, then following a strict protocol of traditional chemical additives should work. As long as the water in your hot tub has a high enough level of chlorine and the water is balanced (pH and Alkalinity are at the recommended levels), you can be reasonably sure that bacteria are not able to live very long in your hot tub.

Keep in mind that bromine and chlorine will evaporate out of your hot tub on a daily basis whether you use the tub or not. Therefore, you will need to constantly test the water and add more chemicals daily.

Next to chemical irritation, the burden of maintaining this strict chemical regimen is often the reason people using chemicals end up with hot tub rash anyway.

Others find that they are sensitive to the chemicals themselves. Many may have had no history of chemical skin sensitivity when swimming a pool in the past. However, it is often the hot temperature, combined with the jets and chemicals that cause the hot tub rash. If this is the case, then you need to try another approach.

Natural Non-toxic Hot Tub Approach

Clean hot tubIf you find that your skin sensitive to chlorine hot tubs and/or bromine hot tubs or that you just don’t like the idea of soaking in these chemicals, then a natural approach may be for you.

A quick search on will present all sorts of so-called  “Natural” approaches to hot tub water treatment. Some of these include daily doses of hydrogen peroxide, saltwater hot tubs (generate chlorine from the salt added to the water), high doses of ozone, vinegar, baking soda and etc. These so-called all-natural approaches involved more chemistry and much more work than chlorine or bromine.

Clarity for Spas Makes Natural Hot Tubs Easy

Clarity for Spas originated the all-natural non-toxic hot tub water treatment approach back in the 1990’s. In fact, our Natural Spa has inspired many imitators in the industry but our updated formula is still the best. Our natural hot tub water treatments will either reduce or eliminate your use of chlorine while keeping hot tub maintenance super simple. You will not need to constantly monitor pH and alkalinity. This alone is worth the switch to our Natural Spa product or our Mineral Spa product.

Clarity For Spas - Chlorine Free Hot Tub Solutions

In addition to our products, Natural Spa or Mineral Spa (or a combination of both) we highly recommend weekly shocking your water with a non-chlorine shock, rinsing your filter(s), increasing your filtration cycles, and showering off before and after using your hot tub.

You Can Still Love Your Hot Tub

You do not have to give up your hot because of concern of chemical-induced hot tub folliculitis. Many of our customers have found that they can truly enjoy their hot tubs again after employing our natural hot tub water treatments.

Learn more about our natural hot tub water treatment products. Your first purchase is guaranteed by our no questions asked guarantee. Additionally, we are available directly by phone to help you with your hot tub. See our products at . 

Please email us at or call (509) 426-3145 (no telemarketing calls) with your questions.



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How a Bromine Treated Hot Tub Affects Your Health


Bromine; Properties. Bromine is a dark-red, dense liquid with a disagreeable odor. It irritates the eyes and mucous membranes and, in contact with the skin, produces lesions which heal with difficulty. Chemically less reactive than chlorine, it combines with both metals and nonmetals. It acts as a bleach and oxidizing agent.

Collier’s Encyclopedia


Bromine; n. Reddish-brown nonmetallic liquid element of the halogen group having a disagreeable odor and irritating fumes and causing chemical burns on contact. Symbol: Br [Greek bromos “stink” + -ine, so called because of its bad odor.]

Collier’s Dictionary

Bromine was introduced a few years ago as an alternative to Chlorine, but does not work any better, and is actually much worse. It’s in the same chemical family as Chlorine, a halogen, and is supposed to last longer in the hot water of a spa. But bromine is almost ineffective unless activated with Chlorine or some other oxidizer. The bromine tablets you use in a floater also contain Chlorine. When the Chlorine gets low you have to add more tablets. This causes the left over bromine to build up to dangerously toxic levels. The next thing you’ll notice is an eye burning vapor when you open the cover, dry, itchy skin, difficulty breathing while in the spa, and ultimately the ‘bromine rash’ on your thighs and midriff.

And bromine has proven to be much more destructive to metals in the spa, which is why most new spas have little or no metal at all in their design. Except, of course, for the heater element. (Say bye-bye to your heater!)

And while it is widely promoted that bromine doesn’t have the ‘unpleasant’ odor of chlorine, this is only true when all water conditions are ideal. Just leave the cover on for too long a time or let the water get out of balance and wham! You’ll discover just exactly why this chemical is called bromine, named after the Greek word bromos, meaning “stink”.

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Natural Chemical Free Hot Tub Product Helps You Avoid Chlorine and Bromine

Without natural hot tub products one of the major downsides to owning a hot tub is that you have to spend quite a bit of time keeping it maintained to ensure the water is always clean and comfortable and the hot tub functions correctly. Leave your hot tub unattended for a few weeks and you’ll find grime and other filth accruing on its surfaces. And until recently, the only way to keep a hot tub clean was to shock the water with toxic chemicals that dry out your skin and make the hot tub less enjoyable for both you and your guests.

Clarity for Spas is the leading supplier of all natural hot tub products that clean your hot tub without the need for harsh treatments or negative side effects. Our New Blue Natural Spa solution, for example, provides months of clean water without any of the common side effects associated with soaking in a hot tub (dry skin, red eyes, etc.) and doesn’t contain any toxic hot tub chemicals. Your hot tub / spa stays clean and your skin stays happy.

We also have an innovative citric acid based cleaner natural hot tub product that will allow you to effortlessly clean your hot tub. Composed of simple, natural substances, this cleaner removes corrosive chemicals and hard water deposits without any work from you. And the best part? It has no negative effect on your skin or your hair, so you can clean your hot tub while you continue to enjoy it.

Clarity for Spas takes pride in delivering the highest quality natural hot tub chemicals on the market. Our hot tub solutions are guaranteed to give you clean, healthy water for months without regular maintenance or scrubbing. And they’re guaranteed to be free of the toxic chemicals so often associated with keeping hot tubs clean (like Chlorine and Bromine). For more information about our natural hot tub chemicals and other water treatments please visit or contact us at (760)610-6205 and let Cal know that Carl sent you.

Check out our Natural Hot Tub Water Treatment Products here.


Chlorine Facts –

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How a Chlorine Treated Hot Tub Affects Your Health

YOUR HEALTH – How Using Chlorine to Treat Your Hot Tub Affects You?


Chlorine, n. a halogen element, a heavy, greenish-yellow, incombustible, water-soluble poisonous gas that is highly irritating to the respiratory organs, obtained chiefly by electrolysis of sodium chloride brine. Symbol: Cl.

The Random House Dictionary of the English Language

Any swimmer can tell you; Chlorine leaves your skin feeling dry and itchy, makes your hair dry, brittle, and prone to dandruff, destroys the elastic in your swimsuit and bleaches it out.

It can cause a rash, or make one worse, irritate your skin, and leave your eyes feeling sore and itchy. If you do not swim very often you are free from the destructive nature of chlorine, right? Wrong. The fact is that here in the USA our municipal water systems are required to add chlorine to our water, and, depending on what is in the water that they are trying to destroy, levels of chlorine can be quite high.

We started using Chlorine in the late 19th century to kill off diseases like cholera and typhoid. Even though the diseases went away, municipal water systems fell in love with chlorine and injected more and more into our water. Chlorine ‘burns up’ parasites and disease-causing pathogens with its harsh nature. Chlorine is a poison. Just as it attacks pathogens and parasites, it also attacks your body tissues.

Chlorine effects the taste and health of your drinking and cooking water, but have you considered your bath water? Chlorine in your bath can cause the same damaging problems to skin and hair as the chlorinated water in swimming pools. When showering, the heat of the water causes your pores to open up and these enlarged pores absorb chlorine instantly. Most cosmetic products do not counteract the effects of chlorine on skin and hair, they just cover it up. But wouldn’t you rather just bathe in cleaner water and prevent these problems in the first place?

You should filter the Chlorine and other harmful chemicals out of your bathing water. Shower and bath filters promise great cosmetic benefits by providing clean, pure water in which to bathe. Showering in filtered water leaves you with soft, luxurious skin and stronger, healthier hair. Using a shower filter also cuts back on the cost of lotions, moisturizers, and hair products. By eliminating Chlorine from the bathing experience, a shower filter can reduce fading of color-treated hair, making dyes last longer and reducing the time between visits to the hair salon.

Besides damage to your skin and hair, Chlorine can cause health problems when inhaled. Inhaling chlorinated water vapors exposes you to Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs) and Disinfection By-Products (DBPs). These compounds can be incredibly dangerous to the delicate tissues in the lungs. The hot water and close quarters in a shower vaporizes Chlorine, VOCs and DBPs and this toxic vapor is then inhaled. This chemical vapor is especially problematic for asthmatics, but it can cause similar lung and sinus problems even for those of us with healthy respiratory systems. In fact, inhaling the steam when you shower exposes you to more dangerous chemicals than drinking that very same water! Filtering your water provides the solution to these health problems. By using a water filter to eliminate the toxic chemicals in your water, costly trips to the doctor can be avoided. With its valuable health benefits, filtered water leaves you breathing easier and feeling healthier.

Chlorine is a dangerous enemy that dries and damages skin and hair and, when combined with VOCs and DBPs, causes permanent respiratory problems as well. We don’t really know what chemicals are in the water we use every day, and these chemicals can attack swiftly and silently. The cure for potential problems lies in pure, filtered water. Our skin and hair will no longer be Chlorine’s victim, and we can breathe easier knowing our lungs are safe from toxic water vapors. Water filters are your strongest defense in your battle against these chemicals. Just imagine the wonderful, clean feeling of naturally pure water!

Chlorine is a very powerful chemical commonly used to sanitize water. Quite simply, chlorine has the ability to oxidize and destroy most any element it comes in contact with. Anything not destroyed by the chlorine is bleached clear, so as not to be seen.

Recently though, we have discovered that using chlorine to rid the water of organic contaminants leads to the formation of organo-chlorides, trihalomethanes (thm’s), chloroform gas, and MX. These compounds are suspected carcinogens, and cause the unpleasant odors and the skin and eye irritation you experience in a chlorine treated pool.

Even the air around pools and spas can be deadly, as reported in 1998 in the American Journal of Public Health. The vapors rising off the pool contain endotoxins formed by the bacteria killed in the water by chlorine or bromine. Breathing these vapors cause pneumonitis; permanent damage to the lungs which causes pneumonia-like symptoms.

Studies conducted for the EPA on exposure to chlorinated water suggest the following health risks:

* Immune system damage, especially in children

* Damage to the liver, kidney and digestive tract

* Miscarriage and sterility, birth defects, and nervous system damage

* Numerous forms of Cancer, especially rectal and bladder

Simply put, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that Chlorine causes cancer, damage to the immune system, damage to the reproductive system, hormonal damage and is a slow, silent killer.

Because of these studies, the EPA announced in February of 1997 its intent to establish a Clean Water Plan to completely eliminate the use of Chlorine wherever possible.

This same agency, the EPA, has unfortunately been very slow to recognize alternative forms of water treatment. To date, 4 years later, the only chemicals this agency recognizes as water sanitizers are Chlorine, Bromine, and Biguanide. No change from 20 years ago.

There is, of course, intense political pressure from The Chlorine Council and other chemical consortiums to not ban the use of Chlorine. It is, quite simply, very profitable.

The pool industry has grown up around Chlorine, and eliminating its use would mean eliminating most of the revenue they now enjoy, what with all the chemicals required when using Chlorine to prevent damage and maintain the proper water balance.

You, fortunately, do not have to bow to these political or economic pressures in deciding how best to protect the health and welfare of your family.

You have a choice, and we have all the best products to choose from!