How to Treat Hot Tub Folliculitis and Why Some People Get It

In this post, we describe the symptoms of hot tub folliculitis, how to prevent it, and how to treat it when it does occur.

In the summer months, most people are eager to get out of the heat and head for the nearest pool, spa, or hot tub. It's a great way to enjoy the outdoors, relax, and spend time with friends and family. But sometimes, problems can arise from spending time in a hot tub, one of which is hot tub folliculitis.

What Is Hot Tub Folliculitis?

This condition occurs when the skin around the neck, chest, and shoulders becomes irritated. It's caused by certain types of bacteria found in warm, moist areas. The follicles become inflamed, causing them to become red and swollen. It's most common in women, but men can also be affected.

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It usually resolves on its own, but some people have susceptible follicles, so it's essential to treat the condition as soon as possible.

Key Takeaways: Hot tub folliculitis can affect anyone after using hot tubs that are not maintained well. Certain types of bacteria cause it.

What Are the Symptoms of Hot Tub Folliculitis?

If you notice bumpy, red rashes on the skin a day or two after going to the hot tub, you may have hot tub folliculitis. These bumps may be filled with pus and can look like acne. The bumps can appear anywhere from a few hours to several days after the person exposed to the infection gets out of the hot tub.

It can also develop anywhere on the skin, including the chest, under the swimsuit, or elsewhere. There are several different causes of this infection. Some of the causes are related to the hot tub itself. Wooden hot tubs can become a breeding ground for bacteria if not appropriately maintained. Water can also be a problem, especially if there are not enough sanitizers or they're not replenished or shocked after heavy use.

symptoms of hot tub folliculitis

Key Takeaways: Symptoms of hot tub folliculitis are often mild and resolve on their own. But in rare cases, bacteria can enter the bloodstream causing severe, life-threatening diseases.

What to Do If You Have Hot Tub Folliculitis

It is very rare for this bacteria to cause illness in healthy people. The condition will disappear on its own once the bacteria are eliminated. However, if you have an open sore or wound exposed to the bacteria, the infection may enter your bloodstream and cause serious complications. People with a compromised immune system may also be at risk of developing this infection.

Your doctor will probably recommend a topical treatment. Topical treatments like ointments and creams go into the skin and can prevent the infection from spreading. You may need to use the medication twice daily for a few weeks. If the treatment doesn't seem to work, your doctor may recommend oral antibiotics.

Key Takeaways: In most cases, hot tub folliculitis disappears on its own or after using topical medications. Otherwise, you might have to go to the doctor to see if you have any underlying conditions or complications.

How to Prevent Hot Tub Folliculitis

The best way to protect yourself from getting hot tub folliculitis is only to use hot tubs that are well-maintained and sanitized. Also, please note that hot tubs use warm water, so the chlorine used to keep it clean breaks down much more quickly. You need to monitor your chlorine or bromine levels regularly or right after heavy use to ensure your sanitizers are still enough.

how to prevent hot tub folliculitis

If you have open wounds, skin abrasions, or just had surgery, it's best to wait until your skin is fully healed. Shaving can also cause microscopic cuts on the skin, allowing bacteria to enter the bloodstream.

Key Takeaways: Regular maintenance and sanitation is key to preventing hot tub folliculitis. Check with the spa owner or the host if you're using a hot tub other than yours to ensure it is safe to use.


If you experience any of the symptoms of hot tub folliculitis, you can wait it out or apply topical medications to speed up the healing. When in doubt, consult with your physician or skin specialist. Don't let hot tub folliculitis stop you from enjoying your hot tub. Always keep a well-maintained hot tub to ensure everyone is safe, including you, your family, and your friends.