It's relaxing to treat yourself to a long soak in the hot tub, but that soothing water might not be as beneficial as you think. Hot water dries out skin, making it feel itchy and irritated -- and the dryness gets worse if you have a skin condition, such as psoriasis or eczema. You don't need to swear off hot tubs forever, though. By caring for your body before and after a soaking session, you'll ward off dryness and keep skin feeling soft and supple.
Insert a thermometer into the water of the hot tub and adjust the temperature of the water to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid drying or burning skin. Temperatures of 104 degrees Fahrenheit and above are too hot. The thermostat reading may not be accurate, so use a thermometer for accuracy.
Limit the time you spend in the hot tub to between five and 10 minutes long. If you soak longer, your skin is more likely to dry out.
Remove your bathing suit as soon as you get out of the hot tub, and take a lukewarm shower as soon as possible to rinse away the chlorine. Wash with chlorine-removing soap and shampoo for better results. Look for these products at drugstores or beauty-supply stores. Chlorine can irritate and dry skin.
Pat your skin dry with a clean towel after getting out of the shower. Do not rub your skin with the towel; this causes irritation.
Apply a moisturizer or lotion while skin is still a bit damp after showering. The dampness helps to lock moisture into your skin. Opt for moisturizers that contain glycerin, panthenol, or lactic acid.
If your hot tub's chlorine or pH level is too high, it can cause a rash. Test your hot tub water with a pool test strip. Ideally, hot tub water should contain between two and four parts per million of free chlorine. The pH level should range from 7.2 to 7.8. If the pH or chlorine level doesn't fall within an acceptable range, have the operator correct it before getting into the water. If you maintain the hot tub yourself, use a product containing sodium carbonate to raise the pH. Products containing muriatic acid will lower pH. Follow the directions on the product packaging.
Avoid using hot tubs if you take medication that causes drowsiness, such as antihistamines or tranquilizers.
If you have diabetes, blood-pressure problems, circulatory problems or a similar condition, ask your doctor if it's safe to use a hot tub.
- National Psoriasis Foundation: Frequently Asked Questions: Psoriasis in Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Hot Tub Rash (Pseudomonas Dermatitis / Folliculitis)
- Oprah.com: Why Skin Itches After a Bath
- University of Rochester Medical Center: Say Goodbye to Dry Skin
- Pool Plaza: PH: Adjusting