Soaking in the hot tub after a long day is supposed to be a relaxing experience. But what if it makes you itch?
Itchy skin after hot tub use can be caused by a number of different factors, from poorly balanced water to issues with sanitizer levels, or in some cases just extended exposure to hot water.
In this article, we'll cover the things you should check to diagnose the cause of your itching, plus a few tips to help combat itchy skin after hot tub use.
Check your water balance
One of the first things that can trigger itchy skin in the hot tub is improper water balance. If the chemicals aren't balanced properly, this could cause a skin reaction.
Test your water at least weekly, and aim to keep within these ranges:
- pH between 7.2 and 7.8
- Total alkalinity between 80 and 140
- Calcium hardness between 150 and 250
Properly balanced water will not only be better for your spa's equipment, but will also help to minimize the risk of skin irritation for you.
Check your sanitizer levels
Every hot tub needs sanitizer to keep it safe and clean. It's necessary to kill bacteria and prevent the growth of mold or algae.
However, too much sanitizer can have a drying, irritating effect on skin. Too little, on the other hand, can cause hot tub folliculitis: a bacterial skin infection that people can pick up from poorly maintained hot tubs.
That's why it's important to maintain your sanitizer at the correct levels:
You should test your sanitizer levels along with the other checks, at least weekly. If you have any doubt, it's also a good idea to check again before using the spa.
Try a different sanitizer
Certain sanitation methods can work for some people and not others.
Chlorine is a popular sanitizer, because it's economical, easy to use, and very effective at killing bacteria. But if you’re using chlorine, know that it can be harsher on skin than some other options.
Bromine, for example, is gentler on your skin, and also has the advantage that it doesn't have such a strong chemical odor. Many bathers appreciate the fact they don't smell quite so much like a swimming pool after using their spa!
Use a moisturizer to soothe dry skin
Sometimes, exposure to water alone is enough to dry out your skin.
Hot water can remove some of the natural oils from our skin, breaking down the skin's protective layer and causing dryness.
If your skin feels tight and itchy after using the spa, try following up with a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer like this one by Cerave on Amazon.
Always shower after using the hot tub
Even when hot tub water is perfectly balanced and sanitized, some people can still experience a little irritation from the sanitizing chemicals.
It's a good idea to rinse off in the shower after using the hot tub, just to minimize the chance of any reaction—and then follow the tip above and moisturize, of course.
Try shorter hot tub sessions
Every spa owner loves a good, long soak to soothe those aching muscles and watch the day's troubles melt away.
But if you're spending a long time in the water, this could be contributing to your itchiness. Try reducing your sessions to just 10-20 minutes at a time, to see if that's less harsh on your skin.
You could also experiment with lowering the temperature by a degree or two, as very hot water can be more irritating than slightly cooler temperatures.
See a doctor or dermatologist
If you have a visible rash or extreme itchiness that doesn’t go away, it could be a sign of something more serious like an infection or underlying skin condition.
In this case, see a doctor to get it diagnosed properly—you don't want to leave anything like this untreated.