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Hot Tub Itch


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#1 jooles

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 11:30 AM

Hi this is my first time on this site. I think iv got the dreaded hot tub itch. had my hot tub since may 07, no probs till sept 07 when i developed very itchy rash, iv been trying to sort since then so driving me crazy. iv blamed washing powder etc.. in fact everything but my beloved hot tub, but after going in sat night, sunday i was covered again in red blotchy,spots, n back to itching. my doctor is in the process of arranging patch tests for me. I currently use bromine in the tub but iv just been reading up on the "Natural" eco products. does anyone use these, and can advise me if they work. I cant bear the thought of watching everyone else in there and not me.

#2 Hillbilly Hot Tub

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 01:39 PM

QUOTE(jooles @ Feb 4 2008, 02:30 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Hi this is my first time on this site. I think iv got the dreaded hot tub itch. had my hot tub since may 07, no probs till sept 07 when i developed very itchy rash, iv been trying to sort since then so driving me crazy. iv blamed washing powder etc.. in fact everything but my beloved hot tub, but after going in sat night, sunday i was covered again in red blotchy,spots, n back to itching. my doctor is in the process of arranging patch tests for me. I currently use bromine in the tub but iv just been reading up on the "Natural" eco products. does anyone use these, and can advise me if they work. I cant bear the thought of watching everyone else in there and not me.

First you need to find out if it is the hot tub ras caused by the germ or if you are sensitive to the chemicals. I would thoughly search some of the natural products. Nature 2, if used properly has worked well with our customers that are sensitive to bromine and chlorine. If it is the germ there are steps you need to take to get it out of the tub. I am guessing if it is just you and not others that use the tub, that it is not the germ, but you are a bit sensitive. In the winter your skin is more dry than in sping and summer which is why you could just be noticing it. Find out what your doc says and go from there. Good Luck
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#3 tony

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 06:11 PM

I know of someone who has the same symptoms as you are experiencing. This person is sensitive to chlorine and bromine. You may want to try a biguanide product such as Baqua Spa, LeisureTime Free or Spa Guard Soft Soak. It may work for you and is a real sanitizer.

#4 waterbear

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Posted 05 February 2008 - 10:01 AM

Hillbilly Hot Tub is right on the money! Find out what is causing the problem first since this will determine what possible solutions you have.

Bromine is known to cause skin reactions in about 17% of those who use it. MPS is also known to cause skin sensitivity. Sensitivity to chlorine is rare but does occur.
"Hot tub itch" is actually caused by psuedomonas and happens when there is not enough active sanitizer residual kept in the water (or in the case of chlorine, when stabilized chlorine is used exclusively and the cyanuric acid levels become very high which causes the chlorine to be a less effective sanitizer.)

Nature2 adds metals (silver and zinc) to the water but it must be used with chlorine and MPS so if your sensitivity is to MPS it might not be of help. The metal ions do have algastatic and bacteriostatic properites but very slow kill times which is why a chlorine residual is still needed in the water. However, it is possible to have a lower residual chlorine level with the Nature2 and still have safe water. However, if you calculate the dosing that the Nature2 instructions recommened it's not THAT much lower than a spa without a Nature2! You still will need to shock the spa with chlorine on a regular basis (weekly or more often,depending on usage) and add either chlorine or MPS daily. Zodiac no longer recommends using MPS exclusively with Nature2 nor shocking with MPS. They have also increased the recommened amount of chlorine to be added on startup, with shocking, and have increased the amount of chlorine or MPS to add after each use as of 2006! (Interesting topic but it belongs in a different thread.)

Most of the natural products are a scam. Enzymes are NOT sanitizers, metals (usually called 'minerals' in the marketing literature) have slow kill times and must be used with either chlorine or bromine.

Your final possiblitiy is a biguanide based santizer such as Baquaspa or Softsoak. They use PHMB (biguanide) as the santizer and hydrogen peroxide as an oxidizer. They work well for a few years and then often tend to self destruct as bacteria develop an immunity to the biguanide and you get pink slime and white water mold. They are not compatible with many spa products so you need to be careful what you add to the spa and these systems are more expensive than either bromine or chlorine. There have also been reports of biguanide damaging some plastic parts in spas and some spa manufacuterers do not recommend their use. Filter will need cleaning and replacement much more often when using biguanide compared to either chlorine or bromine. (Nature of the beast, this sanitizer causes bacteria to 'explode' and the filter then filters out the goo that forms from this. Halogen based santizers actually 'burn up' the bacteria.)

Biguanide does have some pluses...it is a bit easier to use and when it works it works well. IF you are one of the lucky ones you might be able to use it for years with no problems. Regular filter cleaning and replacement and yearly spa 'purging' with chlorine and cleaning of the spa cover (to kill bacteria in the plumbing and on the cover) seem to be the key to keeping biguanide working for a long period of time. If you turn out to have a true halogen sensitivity (BOTH bromine AND chlorine) then it's really your only alternative.

Chlorine, bromine and biguanide are the ONLY three EPA approved sanitizers for spa and/or pool use. THERE ARE NO OTHER EPA APPROVED SANITIZERS! End of story. All other products are supplimentary and MUST be used with an EPA approved santizer if you want sanitized water.
Some, such as ozone and UV light, have merit.
Some, such as 'mineral systems' and ionizers and the 'Blue' liquid products (chelated copper sulfate) are dubious. They can bu useful under certain circumstances but the added expense is often not justified.THEY ARE NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR CHLORINE (or Bromine) IF YOU WANT SANITZED WATER. They still require a santizer residual in the water for fast kill times.
Some are just snake oil based on pseudoscience!

Hope this is helpful.
I've tested more water than I ever care to think about!
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#5 jooles

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Posted 06 February 2008 - 12:44 PM

thank you for your advice. im going for some patch tests early march, so hopefully i will be able to find out exactly what my allergy is, and then sort out the problem thanks again

#6 jhant

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 04:54 PM

Hi this is my first time on this site. I think iv got the dreaded hot tub itch. had my hot tub since may 07, no probs till sept 07 when i developed very itchy rash, iv been trying to sort since then so driving me crazy. iv blamed washing powder etc.. in fact everything but my beloved hot tub, but after going in sat night, sunday i was covered again in red blotchy,spots, n back to itching. my doctor is in the process of arranging patch tests for me. I currently use bromine in the tub but iv just been reading up on the "Natural" eco products. does anyone use these, and can advise me if they work. I cant bear the thought of watching everyone else in there and not me.


What you are describing sounds like what happened to me.
I used a product called Shock Rite to condition the water. I was using bromine tabs for sterilization of the water.

I discovered that I was breaking out in a massive rash and scratching myself to bits shortly after being in the spa.

Turns out that the Shock Rite contains a chemical called potassium peroxymonosulfate. This is also accumulative and does not disperse like chlorine or bromine do.

I drained the spa, refilled, dumped in the bromine tab and a handful of Bicarb of soda and the problem immediately went away.
I dumped the ShockRite so I'd never be tempted to use it again.

Try this and see how you go.

#7 chem geek

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 06:07 PM

Non-chlorine shock, potassium monopersulfate (MPS), can be irritating to some people, especially due to a minor contaminant component called sodium persulfate (aka sodium peroxydisulfate). Those that use Nature2 with MPS tend to not have this irritation because the silver ions from the Nature2 react with the persulfate fairly quickly.

I'm glad you figured out your issue and resolved it. You can use chlorine to reactivate bromine instead of using MPS to do so.

#8 footie

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 07:22 AM

Why do spa chemical supplier only offer non-choline shock solutions?

Every UK supplier/dealer I have went on to only offer MPS. :angry:

#9 chem geek

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 05:39 PM

Why do spa chemical supplier only offer non-choline shock solutions?

Every UK supplier/dealer I have went on to only offer MPS. :angry:

You mean none of them offered Dichlor (chlorine) or bromine? That seems very strange. As for non-chlorine shock, there aren't really alternatives that are compatible with chlorine or bromine. If one isn't using chlorine or bromine at all, then there's hydrogen peroxide as an oxidizer (it's incompatible with chlorine or bromine).

#10 kstuder

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 06:11 PM

Hi this is my first time on this site. I think iv got the dreaded hot tub itch. had my hot tub since may 07, no probs till sept 07 when i developed very itchy rash, iv been trying to sort since then so driving me crazy. iv blamed washing powder etc.. in fact everything but my beloved hot tub, but after going in sat night, sunday i was covered again in red blotchy,spots, n back to itching. my doctor is in the process of arranging patch tests for me. I currently use bromine in the tub but iv just been reading up on the "Natural" eco products. does anyone use these, and can advise me if they work. I cant bear the thought of watching everyone else in there and not me.


I know it's been a long time since your original post, but I wonder what you found out? I have the same problem - got spa in March 2010, started having itchy episodes in October. Nothing about the spa has changed. We use chlorine and non-chlorine shock. I don't have a rash at all, just terrible itching, mostly back of legs, inside of elbows and knees. It starts about 12 hours after I get out of the spa, lasts 24+ hours, then I'm fine. Would love to know what you found out. Nobody else that uses the spa seems to be affected...

#11 Hillbilly Hot Tub

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 07:51 AM

yours sounds like the dry skin effect some people get with the hot water and chemicals, have you tried lotion after getting out of the hot tub?
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#12 kstuder

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 05:17 PM

yours sounds like the dry skin effect some people get with the hot water and chemicals, have you tried lotion after getting out of the hot tub?


I'm trying to get up my courage to get in again this week, and that's something I will try. Seems to me I've done that, and maybe the itching was better, it's been a while. I know that last Wednesday night I definitely had a longer soak than normal, did not use lotion, and thought the itching was going to kill me. No rash or welts, etc, except from where I'd been scratching. Thanks for the advice! I'll post after I try it!

#13 Mark SC

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 08:45 AM

CleanWater Blue or another copper-ion system is very effective at killing the bacteria that causes hot tub itch. cite Nature2 (silver ions) should be as well based on that study. Interestingly, New South Wales, Australia uses the P.aerugenosa bacteria as its sole test for hot tub sanitation (requiring a 4 log reduction in 30 seconds). Here is a copper-silver product meets that test: Link (Copper and silver in combination is somewhat more effective than either alone based on the study cited alone.) MPS would still be needed to take care of E.coli and other pathogens not killed by copper or silver. That's required by the Nature2 and CleanWater Blue instructions (and the EPA certification that Nature2 has). Of course, if your problem is allergies to MPS, then a copper or silver-based system isn't going to help you since you will still be required to use MPS. As chem geek said, Nature2 might be worth a try for you because the silver ions apparently catalyze with the MPS, which might reduce the irritation for you.

#14 chem geek

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 10:55 AM

There is no need to use any metal ions or Nature2 if one is using chlorine, such as with the Dichlor-then-bleach method. The only use for metal ions, and in particular silver ions, is with MPS as in the Nature2 + MPS system for spas; I'm not talking about uses as an algacide (for copper) ignoring staining concerns.

CleanWater Blue or another copper-ion system is very effective at killing the bacteria that causes hot tub itch.

This is not true at all. The first link you gave shows a SLOW killing of Pseudomonas aeruginosa where there was a 5-log reduction in 1.5 hours using 0.1-0.8 mg/L (0.1 to 0.8 ppm) copper ions. Using 0.04 mg/L (40 ppb) silver ions, a 5-log reduction took 72 hours so was barely able to kill bacteria faster than they could reproduce. The copper ion kill rate is roughly equivalent to a 0.3-log (50% reduction) of around 5 minutes or so and this is faster than the 15-60 minutes it takes for such bacteria to reproduce so is fine in a closed hospital water system, but that is not the same thing as a spa where bacteria are continually being introduced by bathers and it would be better to have a somewhat faster kill rate to ensure that there is no time to form biofilms. Some bacteria that are shed are in clumps that have somewhat longer kill times than from these planktonic washed cell studies so you want to kill them fairly quickly. Chlorine even with CYA in the water at pool levels kills this bacteria with a 5-log reduction in under 3 minutes (compared to 1.5 hours for copper ions). However, as I showed in this post and in particular referenced in this paper, while the bacteria is initially killed by copper, there are some phenotypes that survive such that after 20 hours growth rates rise again and are returned to normal by 30 hours. That is, there are some of the Pseudomonas bacteria that are apparently resistant to copper ions and use of copper just ends up selecting for such bacteria.

I wrote a lot about Enviroswim in this thread and even contacted the company (Watertech) as well as APVMA in Australia. The reference you linked to is explained in my post where I figured out and then later confirmed that the ES-3 system was actually producing chlorine in their tests since the volume of water was so low and the TDS was 1000 ppm. It was the generated chlorine levels that did the fast bacterial killing that gave them the good test results. However, such approval was NOT for the spas nor for the ES-3 itself. Approval was for the ES-1 product whereas the ES-3 is simply a follow-on, but must be used in the same way. Also, ES-1 on its own as shown here and here is only a pool algicide, NOT a disinfectant. The label for the ES-1 explicitly states: "A registered sanitiser MUST be used with this product when the pool is used for bathing." The ES-3 in a spa is really not much different than a saltwater chlorine generator. The metal ions in that system were essentially irrelevant compared to the chlorine that was produced.

You need to be very careful about the many different ways companies try to fool people into thinking they have a chlorine-free product and are sanitary without chlorine, etc. Even PristineBlue (and Cleanwater Blue which is the same product under a different name) and Rain Forest Blue copper sulfate pentahydrate products that claim they are a bactericide are getting reviewed by the EPA (on my request) since there is no evidence of support for such claims nor of passing EPA DIS/TSS-12 (i.e. this slipped through the initial EPA review process). As I have noted elsewhere, copper ions are unable to inhibit, let alone kill, fecal bacteria or blood-borne pathogens.




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