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Hot Tubs: Do They Help or Hurt Your Psoriasis?

Posted on December 20, 2021
Medically reviewed by
Ariel D. Teitel, M.D., M.B.A.
Article written by
Sarah Winfrey

Chemicals | Water Temperature | Soaking Salts | Support

“I love my hot tub but don't know if it makes things worse,” one MyPsoriasisTeam member asked the community. The short answer is: It depends on the person.

People with psoriasis have different triggers, and everyone has to figure out what sets off the condition in their own body. While some people may find that soaking in a hot tub helps to manage their psoriasis, others may find that it actually triggers or worsens their symptoms.

Ultimately, it is your decision on whether you take a dip in a hot tub. But knowing the potential effects beforehand might help you make the best decision possible. As always, when trying new psoriasis therapies, talk to your doctor, dermatologist, or another health care provider for more information on how something new — like a hot tub soak — may affect your condition in particular.

Hot Tub Chemicals and Psoriasis

While chemicals can trigger psoriasis flares, not everyone’s condition is set off by the same ones. Chlorine is one chemical that is often used in hot tubs to prevent the buildup of bacteria and viruses. But many people with psoriasis worry about immersing themselves in chlorine. That’s because chlorine can dry your skin and that may make your condition worse. As one MyPsoriasisTeam member wrote, “Chlorine burns and dries skin. I have to take a long shower immediately after exiting pools/hot tubs.”

While there are ways to clean hot tubs without chlorine, those approaches utilize chemicals, too. So if you try out a hot tub soak, do so carefully. If possible, before you climb in, determine whether you are allergic to chemicals (such as chlorine) that are likely to be present in most hot tubs. If you are not allergic and decide to dip in, take a bath or shower immediately after getting out. That will help you wash away any lingering chemicals and can prevent skin irritation. Always note whether your psoriasis worsens — or improves — after you spend time in the water.

Psoriasis and Water Temperature

Hot water dries your skin, and that can trigger your psoriasis, make your existing symptoms worse, or otherwise lead to skin irritation.

But doctors don’t warn people with psoriasis off baths altogether. In fact, many professionals recommend that people with psoriasis take daily baths in lukewarm or warm water — not steaming hot water — to soothe your skin and remove scales. Following that logic, simply turning down a hot tub’s temperature even by a few degrees could help protect your skin. Also, limiting your time in the water to 15 minutes or less may also prevent a soak from making your psoriasis worse.

If your hot tub is in an enclosed area, placing a space heater nearby — if it is safe — could offset a cooler water temperature. Of course, if heat itself triggers you to have a psoriasis flare-up, this may not work.

Some people may find that hot water does not trigger their psoriasis or make it worse. But it takes trial and error for each person to figure that out. Talk to your doctor, dermatology specialist, or another health care expert for advice about safe and controlled test trials of your own.

Psoriasis and Soaking Salts

Some MyPsoriasisTeam members have said adding mineral salts to hot tub water alleviates their psoriasis symptoms. As one member wrote, “Hot tubs with salts have been a treatment for psoriasis for years.” Another added that saltwater pools were “amazing all-around for my skin and for my psoriasis.”

People with psoriasis may react differently when it comes to salt on its own. If you have psoriatic arthritis, you might find that bathing in minerals, including Epsom salts, helps to ease your joint pain. On the other hand, all salt can be drying, and it could therefore damage your skin and make it itch, too.

There is some scientific evidence that treating your psoriasis with both salt water and light therapy might be effective. But the evidence falls short of making a definitive statement about efficacy and safety of such a pairing.

It’s worth mentioning that not all hot tubs are made to tolerate salinated water. Do some research to find out what chemicals and substances are compatible with the hot tub you use. You might find relief, like the member who shared, “My daughter found some Epsom salts that’s safe for the hot tub and boy, oh boy, does it make a difference.”

Find Your Team

Living with psoriasis can come with many questions. At MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 100,000 members from around the world come together to offer each other advice, support, and answers to questions just like this one.

Have you tried hot tubs for your psoriasis? How did it work out for you? Share your experience or tips in the comments below or by posting on MyPsoriasisTeam.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Ariel D. Teitel, M.D., M.B.A. is the clinical associate professor of medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Sarah Winfrey is a writer at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about her here.

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