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Just About To Give Up On My Hot Tub


egclassic
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Last year about this time, I bought a used but almost new hot tub from a friend.

I filled it and balanced the water and started to use it. I developed very, very bad rash. Notice I forgot to "flush and decon" the tub before using it. So I flushed it with "spa purge" and followed the decon process found on this site. Filled again, and started to use it. Again, got the rash. I tried switching to bromine and that did not help. I stopped using MPS entirely, but still got a rash.

Finally I bought some SeaKlear spa flush and noticed it got way more gunk out of the pipes. Filled it again and all seemed well.

Since then (over the summer) I kept the tub filled and maintained with sanitizer at 80*. About a month ago, I flushed it again (with seaklear) and filled it. I used the tub several times without an issue, until this past week. Now I have this rash again.

I am not sure if my friend ever actually flushed the tub when he had it or merely drained and refilled it. Maybe the pipes are so ladened with biofilm that I cant get it all out. I am going to try one more time, then I'm calling it quits. BTW, my wife has never gotten this rash. The only chemicals I have used in the tub are Dichlor, bleach, Borax, Muriatic acid and baking soda(when needed).

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I'm sorry you got a rash again. If it's biofilms, then there's another flushing product that claims to be better than the Seaklear Spa System Flush and that is Ahh-Some. Unfortunately, though we have quite a few reports showing Spa System Flush superior to Swirl Away which is why we recommend the former, we don't have reports on Ahh-Some to know if they are better, but Ahh-Some has 3rd party data showing it better than Seaklear (Spa System Flush), Swirl Away, Aquafinesse SpaClean (SpaOut) and Natural Chemistry Spa Purge. If you try it and find it removes additional biofilms and helps you, let us know.

It's also possible that this isn't bacterial related, but related to some other sort of irritation either from heat or spa jets and that sometimes you are more sensitive than others. Did you ever get confirmation from a doctor using a swab or other test that your rash is from a bacterial infection?

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I used to use spa purge on my last hot tub, and it seemed to work good. I tried it on this hot tub at least twice and I never got any "crud" in the foam, figured it did not work. Then I tried seaklear and it got a lot of colored crud out of the pipes.

I never got a swab or anything, the doc (and I) just assumed it was bacterial because I did not have it before I got this hot tub. I had my previous hot tub for 5-6 years and never really had an issue, except once. I did get a small rash just on my lower legs, but I contributed it to the fact that the water was near the end of it's life cycle in the tub. After a water change, the rash never returned.

I need to ask the friend that sold me this tub if he ever really flushed it and did not just do a drain and refill. I think he had the tub for about 3 years before selling it to me. That's why I am beginning to wonder if the pipes just have so much biofilm build up that the flushing agent is spent before completely cleaning the plumbing. I just ordered some more flush and plan to do it this week again.

I try to keep the chemicals I use to a minimum to rule out any allergic reactions.

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You can also look at this link to help distinguish between a chemical reaction vs. a bacterial infection, though a doctor's diagnosis is obviously the best way to know.

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Ok, What I will try next is wait until all signs of my rash are gone. Then I will use the tub one night and then stay out for 2-3 days and see what happens. It's hard to tell timeframes when you use the tub several times a week, often on consecutive days. I really want to figure this out because I do not want to give up my tub. When our last one went out on us, we went two years without one and we both missed it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi,

I am very interested in your outcome.

I have been fighting the exact same thing that you describe, and I have tried everything. I have concluded that it is not bacterial (for some reason most people assume it is bacterial). My reasons for thinking it is not bacterial is because I had a very similar reaction to sea water.

Assuming that my reaction is chemical related, I systematically tried reducing the chemicals we put in the tub. We have a salt system and we have tried; reducing the amount of salt used, turning down the generator to the minimum setting, minimum calcium hardness, and minimum buffer. None of these changes made a difference, still got the rash. Then I focused on ph, raised it into the upper ranges but still go the rash so we lowered the ph and still got the rash.

We have tried chlorine, bromine, Spa Marvel, and Hydrogen Peroxide as sanitizers - nothing relieved the rash except limiting my exposure to the tub.

So, it is all very frustrating, to say the least. Unless someone has other suggestions, I am left to conclude that it is a sensitivity to warm/hot water.

If anyone has fought through this sort of thing then I would love to hear from you.

Tom

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I would think it might be heat from the water or pressure from the jets, but you said it also happens in sea water so that's particularly strange. Do you ever take a bath and get a reaction? How about showers? Maybe it's just having water wash away skin oils that help retain moisture and the drier skin creates a rash as a reaction. If that's the case, have you tried using moisturizers after you get out of the tub and dry off?

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Hi,

I am very interested in your outcome.

I have been fighting the exact same thing that you describe, and I have tried everything. I have concluded that it is not bacterial (for some reason most people assume it is bacterial). My reasons for thinking it is not bacterial is because I had a very similar reaction to sea water.

Assuming that my reaction is chemical related, I systematically tried reducing the chemicals we put in the tub. We have a salt system and we have tried; reducing the amount of salt used, turning down the generator to the minimum setting, minimum calcium hardness, and minimum buffer. None of these changes made a difference, still got the rash. Then I focused on ph, raised it into the upper ranges but still go the rash so we lowered the ph and still got the rash.

We have tried chlorine, bromine, Spa Marvel, and Hydrogen Peroxide as sanitizers - nothing relieved the rash except limiting my exposure to the tub.

So, it is all very frustrating, to say the least. Unless someone has other suggestions, I am left to conclude that it is a sensitivity to warm/hot water.

If anyone has fought through this sort of thing then I would love to hear from you.

Tom

 

I am still in the process of trying to determine the cause. So far, since I have once again, flushed and refilled the hot tub, I have been in it about 3-4 times. I have not had an issue, yet.

I have just completed my Dichlor "loading stage" and have just switched to bleach today.

This time, upon refilling, I left out the 50ppm of borates, This is the ONE thing that I never used in our last hot tub, and have added nothing but dichlor, and small amounts of dry acid (instead of muriatic, as I have used in the past) and baking soda to balance the water.

I too, have tried everything you mentioned such as trying different sanitizers, and adjusting pH and TA to see if they had any effect. I am completely dumbfounded as I never had issues with our previous hot tub that we had for many years.

I am not sure if it is sensitivity to hot water. I can take very hot, long showers and do not get a rash, granted, I am not submerged in the water either.

At this point, I can't say it is or is not bacterial, but I have flushed this hot tub more in the 2 years I have owned it than I ever flushed our old tub. When I do flush it, I always get either a green or yellow "sludge" on the foam and water line.

If I break out again, I am going to drain the tub and sell it. It is costing me too much money and frustration which is the opposite of what owning a hot tub should be.

I hope you find a solution to your problems!

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If you find that it only happens when you are using bleach, you might try a different brand of bleach. Maybe something in the particular bleach you are using is irritating. Clorox bleach has a very small amount of sodium polyacrylate but other than that it's the same as other bleaches (perhaps has less lye, but that just adjusts pH and becomes salt).

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If you find that it only happens when you are using bleach, you might try a different brand of bleach. Maybe something in the particular bleach you are using is irritating. Clorox bleach has a very small amount of sodium polyacrylate but other than that it's the same as other bleaches (perhaps has less lye, but that just adjusts pH and becomes salt).

 

I may just try that. So far, I have been using a store brand but I will pick up some Clorox this weekend and see what happens.

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So far so good. I have used the tub about 5-6 times for 1/2hr each time and no rash.

I switched to Clorox brand bleach. I have left out the 50 ppm of borates and run my TA at about 60-70. I also keep a close eye on my pH and keep it around 7.4-7.8. I have been using dry acid vs. the muriatic acid that I used to.

Still not sure if any of these were the issue to begin with, or if I have even succeeded yet.

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Read the post on Hot Tub Rash... the culprit may be shock, or specifically potassium monopersulfate..... stick to chlorine, and chlorine shock. If you can swim in a pool and use a public hot tub without getting a rash you can find out what chemicals they use, and I am sure you will find it is chlorine or bromine. Back in the day pools used chlorine to treat bacteria .... that is it. The reason there are so many "new" ways to treat hot tubs, is because chlorine is readily available and cheap. Your skin is also your largest organ... dont mess with what works, and has worked for years.

Also if you read my post on Hot Tub Rash and click the link you will find that the allergic reaction is specific to men.... ages 40ish to 80ish.... for some reaseon it does not affect women, which is why your wife never got the reaction.

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Im here reporting in after a year. check my post history.. I used to get the mps rash.. one year later on the clorox bleach system and i am incident free. (other than dry skin when I over use the hottub)

Yup..

do what chem geek says. buy the big test kit and save money using clorox. It works like a charm.

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  • 1 month later...

 

Read the post on Hot Tub Rash... the culprit may be shock, or specifically potassium monopersulfate..... stick to chlorine, and chlorine shock. If you can swim in a pool and use a public hot tub without getting a rash you can find out what chemicals they use, and I am sure you will find it is chlorine or bromine. Back in the day pools used chlorine to treat bacteria .... that is it. The reason there are so many "new" ways to treat hot tubs, is because chlorine is readily available and cheap. Your skin is also your largest organ... dont mess with what works, and has worked for years.

Also if you read my post on Hot Tub Rash and click the link you will find that the allergic reaction is specific to men.... ages 40ish to 80ish.... for some reaseon it does not affect women, which is why your wife never got the reaction.

 

Problem is, I do not use MPS or any variant thereof.

I am strictly using Bleach (Clorox) with the occasional dose of Dichlor.

Sad to report that my itching/rash has returned. Since my last post I have not used the tub all that much, maybe once a week or once every two. But I have always kept up on the chlorine levels and other parameters.

It always appears after a day or two of using the tub, and always on my legs and any of the "soft" areas of skin, like my a$$ cheeks and undersides of my upper arms.

Come spring, I'm cleaning the tub and selling it. It's costing me a fortune in flushes and refills, not to mention lotions and creams that offer little to no relief.

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That is really unfortunate and sorry to hear that your itching and rash has returned. You had the problem with bromine, also tried not using MPS, and Dichlor/bleach for chlorine. Assuming your chlorine level was fairly low during the soak and that you don't have this problem with shower or bath (assuming it's chlorinated), it sounds like it's more related to being in the hot water and having the more sensitive skin areas get dried and irritated. Too bad that even moisturizing lotions aren't helping.

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Yeah, very frustrating to say the least. I enjoyed our old tub at least 2-3 times a week and never had these issues. I just wish I knew what is causing it. Whats weird is that the rash takes a day or two to form, and lasts a week or two, which would seem to be bacterial. But I've done a test a couple times where I'd get the chlorine up to 10 ppm and watched how long it would take to get down to 2-3ppm, usually several days. I would think if there was bacteria in there, it would drop quicker. Oh well!

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You don't necessarily have a high chlorine demand when there is bacterial growth (if there's not enough to create such demand), but there shouldn't be significant bacteria when chlorine is present. If chlorine went to zero for a while (especially more than 4 hours), then bacterial biofilms could form and those would be more chlorine resistant, but you were maintaining your spa so that shouldn't have happened. Also, if you had biofilms on the spa surfaces, you'd notice them by such surfaces not being squeaky clean (they'd be more slimy). Sometimes such slime occurs above the water line since water can condense there and if the water is still then the chlorine doesn't reach that far.

I wonder if there is something else about this hot tub that is different. Maybe the temperature is hotter than you think? Or are you using an external thermometer rather than relying on the thermostat? It could also be coincidental with age and more sensitive skin though that seems like a stretch. I would think that such things would have you show up symptoms more quickly and not last as long -- as you point out, the delay in symptoms and their lasting a week or two sounds more like a bacterial infection.

If you do ever get this one figured out, let us know. Though unusual, it could still help some people.

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I would love to help anyone else who has this issue if I can.

I have decided, for Sh*ts and giggles, to once again torture myself and try one more thing.

One thought occurred to me, and that was, when we had our old tub I used only granulated Di-chlor, never Clorox. Never heard of the dichlor then bleach method.

Since I have had this tub, I have tried the di-chlor then bleach method. If you see by my other posts, it seems that the first few soaks after a refill do not bother me. But once I have gotten my CYA level up to the recommended level and switch to bleach, that seems to be where I start having some issues. The first soak or two are not so bad, I may get a very slight itch here or there. As I continue to add bleach and use the tub, the rash gets more severe. Maybe I'm wrong but humor me on this one. I will report back after I try just going back to plain Di-chlor on this refill. I know my CYA levels will continue to climb and I will probably have to do water changes more often, but it is absolutely my last Idea.

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Sure, try that out, but you said you also had the problem using bromine. If you do find that Dichlor-only is OK, then you should try a different brand of bleach. Perhaps there is something in the brand you are using that is irritating. If you do isolate this to the bleach, let us know the brand so we can try and figure out what is in it that is causing the problem. Clorox bleach has a very small amount of sodium polyacrylate in it. Otherwise, bleaches are pretty much the same except for the amount of excess lye in them but that shouldn't matter as that just changes the pH (i.e. it's not a specific chemical to irritate).

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Sure, try that out, but you said you also had the problem using bromine. If you do find that Dichlor-only is OK, then you should try a different brand of bleach. Perhaps there is something in the brand you are using that is irritating. If you do isolate this to the bleach, let us know the brand so we can try and figure out what is in it that is causing the problem. Clorox bleach has a very small amount of sodium polyacrylate in it. Otherwise, bleaches are pretty much the same except for the amount of excess lye in them but that shouldn't matter as that just changes the pH (i.e. it's not a specific chemical to irritate).

 

Yes, but even with the bromine I was still using bleach as a shock.

I have tried 3 brands of bleach, including Clorox.

I thought it might be the borax as well, so I eliminated it on my last refill, still broke out.

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