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Thread: Hot Tub Rash / hot tub folliculitis!

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    Hot Tub Rash / hot tub folliculitis!

    I have a MasterSpa Envison Hot Tub 375 Gallons. I have had it since 11/06/07. In the past month, I've developed a rash, which from pictures and everything else I have seen is hot tub folliculitis!.
    My tub uses Cholrine as the santizer.
    Several times a week a Test using Aquacheck Free Cholrine Test strips.
    My normal results are:
    FCI = .05 - 1.5
    pH = 6.5 to 7.1
    Alk = 110-130
    CYA = 150- 300
    My prior strips did not test for CYA but instead TH, so for the first two months, I was not sure what the CYA was
    I use Granular Dichlor as my santizer, plus Shock Treatment (1.5oz) per week.

    From my readings, the CYA is way too high. Could that be a cause of why the FCI can not stay stable around 2 or 3?
    When I first put in the Dichlor, the FCI will be around 4 for a day or so.
    Someone has suggested using straight Bleach instead of the dichlor for my daily sanitizer
    Ron DiLauro
    MasterSpa Envison Owner

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    Testing Bacteria in the water

    Is there a way to test/verify if there is bacteria in your hot tub water?
    Ron DiLauro
    MasterSpa Envison Owner

  3. Back To Top    #3
    Guest
    Your CYA is too high. that is for sure. You only want to use dichlor to get the CYA to about 20 ppm and then switch to bleach, cal hypo, or lithium hypochlorite since none of them will add more stabilizer. The problem with high CYA from exclusive dichlor use in a hottub is that is makes the chlorine much less active so it can't kill bacteria it normally can at a certain concentraion (ppm). You CAN compensate by running a much higher FC level but in your case it is probably easier to drain and refill and just just use the dichlor until the CYA is about 20 ppm (you can't test this with strips BTW!)

    Get a good drop based test kit like the TFT100.

    Once you have the CYA levels reduced all it will take to kill the pseudomonas is a good shocking to about 20 ppm FC

  4. Back To Top    #4

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    waterbear's advice is excellent. The only thing I would add is that when you switch to using bleach after initially using Dichlor, you may find the pH having a strong tendency to rise. This is most likely if you have an ozonator or have jets with lots of aeration. If this is the case, then you can just add acid to the tub just before you add the bleach or if the pH rise is slower then add acid to lower it periodically. You can also try lowering the TA down to around 60 ppm as that will reduce the rate of carbon dioxide outgassing that causes the pH to rise.

    Using Dichlor-only is actually acidic (when accounting for chlorine usage) so you wouldn't notice a pH rise before so to simulate this acidity when using bleach, you'll probably need to use some acid. I'm just warning you in advance -- you might not have any issue if the aeration in your tub is low.

    Richard
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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    Testing Water

    Chem Geek and Waterbear....

    Thanks for your responses. I will take your advise and try the bleach route and other suggestions.
    I've added the bleach 1/2 cup and up'd the Filter cycle from 2 to 4 hours.
    I will wait a day or so and retest and then repost here.

    Thanks again
    Ron DiLauro
    MasterSpa Envison Owner

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    I switched from DiChlor only to DiChlor for the first few days then bleach in my Softub. Works quite well, but I do have to do more PH adjusting as ChemGeek says. Don't try bleach only though, that is what I first did. Without some CYA in the water, it is really tough to keep any residual chlorine in the water, especially with an ozonator (which the Softub has built in).
    20 x 40 vinyl IG. SWG. Solar. Ikeric VS pump.

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    Testing The Water - Hot Tub Rash

    Ok, new test results:
    FCI 10
    pH 7.2
    Alk 115
    CYA (again from the Aquacheck strips) about 125

    I went in the tub last night , couple of hours afterwards, my rash really flared up and seemed to have
    spread to both arms.

    I will be draining the tub, but the ground is still pretty frozen, so I think I will have to wait at least a couple of more
    weeks.

    I saw that running the FC more frequently may compensate for some of the higher CYA. My biggest question right now
    is there anything I can do to stop whatever is in the water from bringing on more of a rash?
    I've heard a lot about the Spa Frog, is it worth it?

    Plus, I dont know if I was mislead by my dealer, but I was told with the Masterspa Envision, I had to stay with a cholrine
    based sanitizer vs bromine.. Rationale was that bromine, would tarnish the stainless steel jets

    When I drain, I plan on using Bleach (I assume unscented Clorox would be ok) and the Dichlor(Choline) maybe weekly.
    Ron DiLauro
    MasterSpa Envison Owner

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    Quote Originally Posted by tphaggerty
    I switched from DiChlor only to DiChlor for the first few days then bleach in my Softub. Works quite well, but I do have to do more PH adjusting as ChemGeek says. Don't try bleach only though, that is what I first did. Without some CYA in the water, it is really tough to keep any residual chlorine in the water, especially with an ozonator (which the Softub has built in).
    Not only that, but if you use only bleach without any initial Dichlor (to get some CYA), then you are over-chlorinating the water and will degrade the hot tub cover and your swimsuits faster (and your skin will flake more and hair frizz more). CYA, in moderation, is a very good thing. I usually recommend a level of around 20 ppm which is about 5 days of Dichlor assuming 4 ppm FC per day.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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    Re: Testing The Water - Hot Tub Rash

    Quote Originally Posted by rdilauro
    Ok, new test results:
    FCI 10
    pH 7.2
    Alk 115
    CYA (again from the Aquacheck strips) about 125

    I went in the tub last night , couple of hours afterwards, my rash really flared up and seemed to have
    spread to both arms.

    I will be draining the tub, but the ground is still pretty frozen, so I think I will have to wait at least a couple of more
    weeks.

    I saw that running the FC more frequently may compensate for some of the higher CYA. My biggest question right now
    is there anything I can do to stop whatever is in the water from bringing on more of a rash?
    I've heard a lot about the Spa Frog, is it worth it?

    Plus, I dont know if I was mislead by my dealer, but I was told with the Masterspa Envision, I had to stay with a cholrine
    based sanitizer vs bromine.. Rationale was that bromine, would tarnish the stainless steel jets

    When I drain, I plan on using Bleach (I assume unscented Clorox would be ok) and the Dichlor(Choline) maybe weekly.
    After you drain the tub, you can shock with unscented bleach (yes unscented Clorox Regular is the stuff to use) and get it up to 20 ppm. This is a very high level of chlorine, but it will only be done briefly and will only last a day or two. When the chlorine drops, use Dichlor to keep the FC level up but only use it for about a week -- essentially to get to around 20 ppm CYA so that's enough Dichlor to cumulatively add 22 ppm FC (so around 5-6 days at 4 ppm FC per day, for example). After that, use the Clorox Regular. Do not use Dichlor again until your next refill. For any weekly shocking, use the bleach, not Dichlor. The CYA won't go away so there is no need to add more until your next refill.

    You may not have hot tub foliculitus. You could have a heat/pressure sensitivity. If the rash goes away fairly quickly when you aren't using the tub, then it's more likely to be the latter as the bacterial rash persists longer. In any event, after you've done a drain/refill and shock, you can see if things improve.

    Richard
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

  10. Back To Top    #10

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    Testing the water - Hot Tub Rash

    Ok, back to my Rash situation. I've done what the dermatologist have asked, the creams, the treatments and it did not clear things up, but I was out of the hot tub for about 5 days and the itching and redness started to go away.
    Last night I went into the tub and this morning, that rash is all red again, new places and itching as can be.
    Right now I am thinking I am having some reactions to the Chlorine. I think when I drain my spa in a couple of weeks, I am going to go the bromine route. So many people have said that bromine is much more gentle on the skin, but it takes more of it to keep the spa santized.

    Here are my latest Reading: (Using Aquacheck Free Chlorine Test Strips)

    FC = 9 or 10
    pH = 6.9
    Total Alkalinity = 180
    CYA = 200

    Now, I tested with the kit I just purchased (Taylor K-2006)

    ph = 7.4
    Total Alkalinity = 220 (Had to add 22 drops of #0009 to turn the water from green to red)

    I need to retest again later with both test vehicles. Either I am doing something wrong with the Taylor kit
    or my test strips are whacked.

    Th FC has remained at 10 (or close) for over a week now, since I super-chlorinated it with 1 cup of Dichlor and 1/2 cup Clorax. I want to get my pH up to 7.4, but when I add the pH increaser, it just seems that my total Alkalinity keeps on going up.
    Is there a better way to increase my pH?
    Ron DiLauro
    MasterSpa Envison Owner

  11. Back To Top    #11
    JasonLion's Avatar
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    If your CYA level is really 200 then your FC level is nowhere near high enough and the water is not safe. Have you drained the tub yet? You need to get your CYA level down to a more reasonable number and replacing the water in the tub is the only practical way to do that. Until you do that there is no point in thinking about other options.

    It is incredibly rare for people to have reactions to chlorine and people who are sensitive to chlorine often react to a regular shower/bath since there is chlorine in most tap water. Reactions to bromine are much more common. The nice thing about bromine is that bromine is not as sensitive to heat as chlorine is. Chlorine tends to get used up quickly at hot tub temperatures, so you need to pay more attention to maintaining the chlorine level than you would need to do with bromine.

    Running the jets for half an hour should bring the PH right up. If that doesn't work I would suspect testing problems. What are you using to test the water?
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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  12. Back To Top    #12
    Guest
    Trust the Taylor kit over the strips. People dont call them 'guess strips' for no reason!

    If you superchlorineated with 1 cup of dichlor you just sent your CYA through the roof!
    You need to drain the tub, refill and reblance, and then bring the FC levels up to about 20-25 ppm to sanitize the tub. If after doing so you still get the rash then it's not pseudomonas.

  13. Back To Top    #13

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    Taylor Test Kit Results

    Test Results with Taylor K-2006

    I just did a Free Combined Chlorine test
    10 ml test water 29 drops of R0871 to change from pink to colorless: 29 x .5ppm = 14.5 ppm

    Cyanuric Acid Test
    Added R-0013 to bottle that had 7ml test water.
    Adding that to the small comparator, it looked like the black dot disappeared quickly, looking at the
    mark = 100ppm was the reading

    If I did this all correctly, the chlorine level is still higher than what is normal (3-5ppm)

    I am going to retest this all on Friday
    Ron DiLauro
    MasterSpa Envison Owner

  14. Back To Top    #14
    JasonLion's Avatar
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    The CYA test in the Taylor K-2006 kit is not reliable above 100. It is quite possible for levels above 100 to read as if they were 100. A FC level of 14.5 is acceptable for a CYA level between 100 and 180, though that FC level won't kill several of the persistent nasties once they have gotten established.

    The usual CYA level for a hot tub is around 20 and at that CYA level a FC reading of 3 to 5 is ideal. As the CYA level goes up you need to increase the FC level to maintain the same disinfecting level. Spa instructions don't always go into this distinction because they tend to assume that you are replacing the water fairly regularly so there won't be time for the CYA level to get as high as yours is.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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