Why You Should Think Twice Before Using A Public Hot Tub

If you were planning on taking a dip in your local public hot tub anytime soon, you might want to think again — or at least, take some precautions. While they may be relaxing and fun, public hot tubs can be breeding grounds for bacteria (via Glamour). While hot tubs are treated with chemicals like chlorine, that doesn't necessarily mean that they're hygienic. Although chlorine can kill most germs, it doesn't sterilize the water, meaning any leftover germs can linger for hours or even days at a time.

Another issue is the temperature. Since hot tubs have higher water temperatures than swimming pools, the chlorine levels evaporate at a much faster rate. Unless public hot tubs are checked frequently and regularly treated, there won't be enough chlorine to kill any harmful germs and bacteria in the water. It's also important to note that proper chlorine levels aren't determined by smell. Being able to smell chlorine doesn't mean that the water is clean and free of bacteria.

Can public hot tubs make you sick?

Since public hot tubs are often full of bacteria, that means that they can also make you sick. In fact, public hot tubs have been linked to several bacterial infections and illnesses (via Live Science). One common hot tub-related illness is hot tub rash, a bacterial skin infection caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Symptoms include itchy and bumpy skin, a rash, and blisters near the hair follicles on your skin.In extreme cases, taking a dip in a public hot tub that's not properly disinfected may also result in Legionnaires' disease, a type of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria. Additionally, spending time in public hot tubs can sometimes lead to hot tub lung, a type of lung disease caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium avium complex. People can become infected by breathing in the bacteria, which may cause the development of granulomas in the lungs.

This may sound grim, but you don't have to completely avoid hot tubs. Luckily there are some steps you can take to help ensure that your public hot tub experience is mostly germ-free. For instance, you can take a shower before you hop in the hot tub, since bathing will help cleanse your body of any skin care products, like lotion or makeup, which lower the disinfectant level in the water (via HuffPost). You can also use pool test strips to check the chemical concentrations and pH level of the water (should be between 7.2 and 7.8). Lastly, it's also good practice to rinse off after getting out to rid your body of any lingering chemicals or germs.