As we saw in our article on the Health Benefits of Inflatable Hot Tubs, there are many wonderful advantages you get from owning your very own hot tub. They reduce stress, ease the aches and pains of daily life, help you sleep better, assist in weight loss, and even ease the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes. And, of course, they’re great fun.
However, we need to point out that there are some health risks as well in owning and using an inflatable hot tub. It’s important you are aware of these, so that you can take all the necessary steps to prevent them from occurring. Please don’t worry about them – they can easily be avoided by being careful and vigilant while using your hot tub, and always making sure you keep your hot tub and the water in it hygienic and clean.
Slips and Trips
When you use your inflatable hot tub, there’s always the possibility someone could have an accident. You might slip and fall when getting in or out of the hot tub; or you might slip on the surface area around the hot tub if it’s wet.
Therefore, always be careful when you get into and out of the hot tub. Remember that the walls of quality inflatable hot tubs are strong enough to support your weight. So sit on the wall and swing your legs over, rather than trying to step over and into the hot tub.
If you or another hot tub user is a little unsteady on their feet, consider purchasing some non-slip steps to make it easier to access the hot tub. And make sure that nobody ever runs around a hot tub, no matter how much fun they’re having. If they fall over onto a hard surface, they risk a twisted knee, wrenched back, even a broken bone. And if they fall into the hot tub and bang their head, they could risk drowning.
It’s especially important that children don’t see the hot tub as a swimming pool. An inflatable hot tub is a great temptation to young children, so it’s vital they understand the rules for using the hot tub. This includes being especially careful in the water and when they are playing in the area surrounding the tub.
We have what we consider to be the most important guide on our site: Keeping Children Safe In Your Inflatable Hot Tub which has lots of advice on this whole area. The key rules for children using your inflatable spa are:
- Children should never be left unsupervised in a hot tub.
- No child under the age of 5 should ever be in a hot tub.
- Children must never ever pee in the hot tub.
- They mustn’t run around the hot tub.
- No jumping or diving into the hot tub.
- Children mustn’t put their head under the water.
- Children mustn’t taste or drink the water in the spa.
Scalded or Burned Skin
The maximum temperature your inflatable hot tub can reach is 104F. This is the industry-wide standard and it’s there for a reason: to prevent your skin from getting burned or scalded.
For adults, a water temperature of 106 to 108° F gets into pain threshold territory.
You might be surprised to learn that in the USA, more burns are caused by hot water than by fire. There is certainly a risk that the hot water of an inflatable hot tub can burn you if you stay in for long. This is especially true for very young children, who can really only tolerate water temperatures up to 90F..
Therefore, you should think about limiting the time you spend in your inflatable hot tub to a maximum of 20-25 minutes in one go; while for children, 5 minutes is more than enough.
Hot Tub Rash
Hot Tub Rash, also known as Pseudomonas folliculititis to give it its medical name, is an inflammation of your hair follicles. This causes a red, itchy rash and blisters to form on your skin, similar in appearance to chicken pox
It’s due to the presence of a bacteria in your hot tub water, called Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The rash is very itchy and can be painful, but it usually goes away on its own – as long as you don’t scratch it. It’s also important that you don’t get into your hot tub while you have the rash, as this will aggravate the rash and could re-infect the hot tub water.
If the rash hasn’t healed after 7 days, you’ll need to seek medical advice – usually, you’ll be prescribed some antibiotics.
If anyone develops hot tub rash after using your inflatable hot tub, you need to drain your hot tub, give it a thorough clean, and then refill it with fresh water and sanitizer.
Of course, knowing how to prevent the bacteria from entering the water in the first place is the best course of action. And it’s all down to making sure the sanitizer levels in your hot tub are always correct. If this is something you need to know more about, then please check out our guide on How To Test The Water In Your Inflatable Hot Tub (opens in a new tab).
OK, this is going to be a little graphic and gross, but there is often fecal bacteria in many hot tubs, both inflatable and hard-shell. That’s because the average person has traces of feces on their bodies which is washed off when they use the hot tub.
This fecal bacteria can cause skin irritation and eye problems if it is left untreated. The key is to always maintain the right levels of sanitizer in your inflatable hot tub, and to make sure you change the water regularly and give your hot tub a thorough cleaning.
An even more serious hazard occurs if someone pees in your hot tub. That’s because the chemical urea, which is in everyone’s pee, mixes with the chlorine in the water to form a nitrogen-based chemical called chloramine.
As you can see in our article Why You Mustn’t Pee In Your Inflatable Hot Tub, exposing your skin to chloramine, and breathing in the chloramine fumes which rise up in the steam that comes off your hot tub water, can cause symptoms such as:
- irritated skin
- irritated eyes
- sore throat
- breathing difficulties
- asthma attacks
- increased risk of bacteria infections, including Legionnaires’ Disease
Legionnaires Disease is a serious lung infection that is caused by inhaling the legionella bacteria. You catch it by breathing in droplets of water in the steam from your hot tub, which contain the bacteria.
Symptoms include a bad cough, flu-like fever, breathing difficulties, severe chest pain, muscle pain, diarrhoea, headache, high temperature, and chills. These will usually develop 24 hours or so after soaking in an infected hot tub.
It’s a very uncommon illness, but if you develop a bad cough after using your inflatable hot tub and you also develop any of the other symptoms, it’s vital that you seek medical help immediately.
As with so many hazards here, the key to preventing your inflatable hot tub from harboring the bacteria is to make sure the sanitizer is always at the correct level, that you keep the filters clean, that you shock your hot tub, and that you drain and clean your hot tub at regular intervals.
E. Coli and Shigellosis
E. Coli and Shigellosis are bacterial infections that cause diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and stomach pain. Both are caught from bacteria which is found in infected fecal matter, which as we have seen can be washed off someone’s body when they use your hot tub.
In the majority cases, these infections will go away on their own, which can take up to 14 days. However, if the symptoms are extreme or they don’t go away within two weeks, you need to see a doctor.
Maintaining clean, santized water and a clean inflatable spa is key to preventing these bacteria from surviving and flourishing in your hot tub. It’s especially important to drain and clean your hot tub regularly as well.
There are two parasites that can live in the warm waters of hot tubs – but fortunately, they are extremely rare.
The first is Cryptosporidium, usually known as Crypto. It can cause fever, diarrhea and vomiting if you are infected.
The main way you can get Crypto is by swallowing infected water, so always avoid taking in any hot tub water into your mouth. This is especially true for children, who are more prone to parasitic infection.
Thankfully, Crypto is very preventable, through maintaining clean water and a clean hot tub. It’s also important to thoroughly shower before you get into your hot tub – and to make sure that anyone who has an upset stomach or diarrhea doesn’t use the tub (this is always something you should reinforce).
The other parasite you need to be aware of is Giardia. This is also found in contaminated water, and it causes diarrhea, dehydration and stomach cramps.
You are much more likely to find Giardia in public swimming pools and spas than you ever are in a home hot tub. But, again, maintaining a rigorously clean filter system, as well as ensuring sanitizer levels are correct, and your hot tub is clean important in preventing this parasite from ever infecting your hot tub water.
Expectant moms need to be aware of potential risks of using an inflatable hot tub. Two risks come from slipping, and the dangers of dehydration and dizziness, caused by the hot water.
The main concern though is that sitting in a hot tub can raise your core body temperature to a level that is dangerous for your baby.
To minimise this risk, you must avoid letting letting your temperature get higher than 101 degrees F. This can happen if you spend just 10 minutes in a hot tub.
Therefore, you should only get into a hot tub for an absolute maximum of 10 minutes, preferably shorter than that. It’s always best to play it safe.
Well that’s been quite a ride through some worrying health risks! We’re sorry if we did scare you along the way, but it’s best that you are aware of the risks to health.
The thing to keep in mind is that a properly maintained inflatable hot tub that is clean, along with clean and sanitized water, is your best defence against these risks.
Also, the two most frequent of these hazards – someone slipping and someone peeing in your hot tub – are the easiest to control and prevent.
So please don’t let your concerns stop you from enjoying your inflatable spa – or prevent you from buying one. Common sense, care, and a good ounce of prevention will keep you and your loved ones safe.