My teenage son had a rash on his chest, and when I took him to the pediatrician, he asked if he’d been in a hot tub recently. He had, and the doctor attributed the rash to that. Why?
There’s a rash called hot tub folliculitis that’s caused by bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa, says Dr. Ronald Marino, associate chairman of pediatrics at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola. Translation: “It’s a bacteria that gets into the hair follicles and causes this bumpy, itchy rash,” Marino says. “It can cover the chest, the legs, the arms — anywhere that’s submerged.”
The rash usually appears within hours or a couple of days of being in the hot tub, he says. It’s self-resolving for the most part, Marino says. “You don’t have to give antibiotics, you don’t have to put any topical medication on it.” You might use something to reduce itching, but it should clear up soon, he says.
“Like any infection, some people are more prone than others,” Marino says. “The longer you spend in the water, the younger you are, the more you have tender skin, maybe excema, the more likely you are to be infected.” Once infected, Marino tells his patients to stay out of hot tubs and swimming pools until the rash is cleared up.
On the subject of hot tubs, Marino also warns about the danger of girls’ hair getting caught in the hot tub — even if it’s in a ponytail. “There have been cases of people with long hair getting sucked into vents and drowning,” he says. Kids and teens should always have parental supervision, and everyone should know where the emergency shut-off valve is located and how to use it, he says.