Bubbling in a Jacuzzi: Fun But Not Always Healthy

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Bubbling in a Jacuzzi: Fun But Not Always Healthy

Hot tubs are fun, but not always healthy. You can prevent infections with a few simple (precautionary) measures.

You are at a party, in a club, in a hotel, or with friends where a Whirlpool almost begs for your presence. Of course, it is wonderful to enjoy the warm water (and your partner). You do have to know that jacuzzis present an increased risk of bacterial infections.

How great that risk also depends on the way in which the water of the hot tub is kept clean, but a relaxing warm bath naturally contains more bacteria than the water in swimming pools. In addition, the chlorinated hot water also requires more chlorine, which is not always calculated correctly by the person who has to maintain the Jacuzzi.

Bubble Bath Rash

A common bacterial infection is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can lead to Pseudomonas folliculitis, also known as a bubble bath or Jacuzzi rash.

The pores in your skin are opened in warm water or with warm steam. This promotes the separation of oil, microscopic particles, and dirt that has accumulated in the skin. Very normal, but at the same time, that is the risk because dirt and bacteria are absorbed faster for the same reason. And that can lead to superficial skin infections. “Certain microorganisms spread incredibly fast in hot tubs,” says Aaron Glatt, president of medicine at South Nassau Communities Hospital in New York and spokesperson for the Infectious Disease Society of America.

Moreover, hot tubs are more difficult to maintain than swimming pools. “The warm water requires more chlorine and increases the number of bacteria,” says Michele Hlavsa, RN, MPH, the Chief of CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program and the epidemiology activity lead for CryptoNet, a program that promotes disease control and healthy swimming.

The rule to take a shower before you step into the Jacuzzi is, therefore, not so bad. With a hot shower, you remove a lot of dirt and other potentially harmful particles from your bod,y which then no longer enter the hot tub.

Another danger of hot tubs or showers that have been set too cold is legionella, also known as ‘veteran disease.’ The bacterium enters the lungs through evaporation of the water. Legionella can be very dangerous, and even fatal, for people over 50, smokers, and people with a weakened immune system. The symptoms of legionella are similar to those of severe flu: muscle pain, headache, and a general feeling of weakness. Victims also often get serious pneumonia.

Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Hot tub rashes mainly occur in places that have been covered with swimwear. You suffer from:

  • Inflammation and lumpy rash
  • Itching
  • Pus-filled blisters, especially around the hair follicles

Proper maintenance of the Jacuzzi can prevent nasty aftermath of such a nice bubble bath. Of course, you can’t control that with a hot tub in a hotel, club, or with friends. Then you have to hope for good maintenance, such as the use of chlorine and bromate and regularly-changed water. If you always want to be sure, take a test strip with which you can quickly and easily measure the amount of chlorine, bromine and / or the pH level of the water. Normally with a pH of 7.2 or 7.8, the amount of chlorine must be around three parts per million (ppm), and the amount of bromine is four ppm.

  • Do not step into a bubble bath that looks dirty or whose water is not clear.
  • Immediately after your bubble bath, take off your swimwear and shower with soap and water.
  • Rinse your bathing suit with clean water.
  • NEVER go into the water if you have diarrhea.
  • Do not immerse yourself in a bubble bath (and try to prevent swallowing water).

If you do have a rash, treatment is not always necessary. You can use itch-relief medicine. Usually, the result is gone within a few days or greatly reduced. If you continue to keep your symptoms, go to your doctor.

Those who just pay attention and take (precautionary) measures can simply enjoy the hot tub!


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