A hair follicle is a small cavity of the skin in which a hair develops. When one or more of these becomes inflamed or infected, it is called folliculitis. Hot tub folliculitis is an infection of the hair follicles that occurs after being in a hot tub.
Bacteria calledcan grow in hot tub water that is not adequately treated with chemicals. When a person soaks in the water, the bacteria can enter the hair follicle. This causes an infection.
The signs of hot tub folliculitis usually occur within 3 days of using of a improperly maintained hot tub. These include: itchy, bumpy rash on the trunk, arms, legs, and buttocks. This usually begins 6 hours to 3 days after using a hot tub.small fluid filled blisters called pustules. Untreated, pustules may progress into dark, red, tender, hard nodules, also known as furuncles or boils.body-wide discomfortlow-grade fever as symptoms progress
Hot tub folliculitis is caused by exposure to contaminated water in a hot tub or spa. People with open cuts or sores, people with diabetes, or those have a history of other skin conditions are at increased risk for infection.
To prevent hot tub folliculitis, the pH and chemicals such as chlorine or bromine need to be closely monitored in hot tubs and spas. This will help to decrease the growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
A healthcare professional may suspect hot tub folliculitis after taking a person's health history and doing a physical exam. The presence of skin lesions and a history of exposure to a hot tub or spa usually confirm the diagnosis.
Long term effects of folliculitis include furuncles (boils), abscesses, or deep skin infections, known as cellulitis. With treatment, these complications are rare.
Folliculitis is contagious, that is, it may be spread from one person to another. Individuals with folliculitis should wash their hands thoroughly. They should also not share towels or washcloths. People with this condition should not use a hot tub until the infection has cleared up.
Treatment for hot tub folliculitis usually consists of cleansing the infected area thoroughly with soap and water. Warm water soaks can be used. Antibiotic ointment should be applied to the skin rash. If symptoms do not go away, oral antibiotics may be needed. The person should not scratch the pustules, as this can make symptoms worse.
Antibiotic ointments may cause skin irritation. Oral antibiotics may cause stomach upset, diarrhea or allergic reaction.
A person should monitor the folliculitis rash and contact a healthcare professional if symptoms progress or do not improve.
A person should monitor the folliculitis rash and contact a healthcare provider if symptoms progress or do not improve.
Mayo Family Health Book, David E. Larson, 1996.
Professional Guide to Diseases, Springhouse, 1995