Folliculitis Overview

Folliculitis and Hot Tubs

After a relaxing dip in the hot tub, the last thing you want to see is a rash of red bumps, but they are an all-too-common occurrence. If the water in the hot tub is not properly treated, hot tub folliculitis is a very real possibility.

Hot tub folliculitis is caused by the bacteria "Pseudomonas aeruginosa," which is a type of bacteria that can thrive in a hot tub if the water's pH and chlorine aren't at appropriate levels. This type of folliculitis, like all others, happens when the bacteria comes into contact with a damaged hair follicle. It tends to be most concentrated under the swimsuit areas, as those can trap the water and the bacteria close to your skin [source: New York Times].

Symptoms of hot tub folliculitis are similar to those of regular folliculitis. It normally appears in a progression, beginning with a bumpy red rash that may itch, which may turn into dark red nodules or bumps filled with pus [source: New York Times]. These can be uncomfortable, but they can also clear up in a few days without treatment. If the itch is unbearable, doctors can prescribe antibiotics or anti-itch creams [source: Centers for Disease Control].

This is no reason to hang up your bikini -- as long as the water levels are as they should be. To avoid hot tub folliculitis in your own home, conduct frequent testing of the water and be sure you know how to control the pH and the amount of chemicals. This is essential for ensuring safe hot tub water. For public hot tubs, you have less control [source: Centers for Disease Control]. Professional maintenance crews should see to your safety by following protocol. However, just to be on the safe side, immediately after using a public hot tub, you should shower with antibacterial soap and dry off with a clean towel.

While folliculitis is a common irritation, it's also treatable and preventable. For more information, investigate the links on the following page.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


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