A recent article, published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), featured a title that may have caused concern amongst spa pool fans: Just how gross are hot tubs? A microbiologist explains.
Just how gross are spa pools? And what are the potential negative effects of spa pools? As the ABC article makes clear, spa pools are only unclean and potentially unsafe if they aren’t properly maintained and cared for. If you choose a high-quality spa with a high-quality water care system and follow the manufacturer’s instructions, you’ll enjoy a clean, luxurious and perfectly safe soak.
Potential uncleanliness is one of many misconceptions that members of the public can have around spa pools. To clear things up, in this article we’ll take a closer look at a few of the main spa pool hygiene misconceptions, and how they compare to reality.
Can you get an infection from a spa pool?
The fact of the matter is you can get an infection anywhere – at home, outside, and yes, in a spa pool. But you won’t get an infection from a spa pool unless you fail to maintain yours properly.
Chemicals like chlorine and bromine ensure that nasty bacteria such as legionella (the cause of Legionnaires’ disease), mycobacterium avium complex (which can irritate the lungs) and pseudomonas aeruginosa (which can irritate the skin) are unable to survive in your spa pool.
If you follow the manufacturer’s water care instructions, maintaining appropriate chlorine levels and draining, cleaning and refilling your spa regularly, you’ll have no issue with any of these bacteria.
This is especially the case if you choose a spa pool fitted with high-end water care technology like the Hot Spring FreshWater Salt System, which dramatically reduces the need for chemicals and the need to drain and refill your spa – you may only need to do so every 12 months!
Do spa pools hold a lot of bacteria?
Bacteria and other microorganisms tend to thrive in the moist, warm conditions that are found in a spa pool. The bacterium pseudomonas aeruginosa is one of the most renowned, as it can cause hot tub folliculitis, an irritation of the skin around hair follicles, as well as urinary tract infections (UTIs).
But bacteria simply cannot call a well chlorinated spa pool home, as the chlorine breaks down the chemical bonds in their molecules. In other words, chlorine tears bacteria apart. If you have a suitable amount of chlorine in your spa pool, any invaders will be dealt with instantly.
What infections can you get from a spa?
This question can be read one of two ways:
- What infections can you get from a badly maintained spa? Soaking in an unhygienic spa could put you at risk of contracting a number of infections, including hot tub lung, hot tub folliculitis, Legionnaires’ disease or a urinary tract infection (UTI).
- What infections can you get from a correctly maintained spa? None (unless you’re soaking with a sick person who coughs in your direction!)
In short, soaking in a dirty spa pool is as dangerous as putting yourself in any unhygienic situation – you risk exposure to bacteria, which can lead to hot tub bacteria symptoms, which can turn into an infection, which, in the case of the Legionella bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease, can even lead to an illness as dangerous as pneumonia.
Keep your water clean, clear and fresh, however, and you’ll have nothing to worry about.
How do I know if my spa pool has bacteria?
Individual bacteria are too small to see, so how do you check your spa pool for uninvited visitors before you lower yourself in? Firstly, and at the risk of repeating ourselves, prevention is better than cure. If you always maintain your spa pool according to the manufacturer’s instructions, you should never have a problem.
Beyond that, the good news is that bacteria isn’t subtle in its attempts to take over your neglected spa pool. You’ll see and smell your bacterial invaders long before they become a problem. The first signs will be a slightly sour or otherwise funky smell. If left unattended the smell will intensify and the water will become cloudy. Eventually slime, mould and fungus may develop.
As soon as you notice something’s amiss it’s wise to either shock your spa with chlorine, or drain, clean and refill it. If you use your spa when it smells funky or looks anything but crystal clear, you’re putting your health at risk.
Are spa pools unhealthy?
Now that we have a better understanding of the role of bacteria, one big question remains: are spa pools unhealthy in any way? And the answer, if you take care of your spa and use it in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, is that a spa pool is far from unhealthy. In fact, a soak in a spa can offer a quite remarkable array of health and wellness benefits.
Physiologically speaking, immersing yourself in a spa pool widens your blood vessels and gets your heart pumping more blood, which sends more oxygen and nutrients around your body. With buoyancy counteracting gravity, a spa can also take pressure and strain off your muscles, joints and bones, and can form a natural analgesic (pain reliever).
As a result of these effects, a spa pool can offer real relief from a wealth of chronic conditions: arthritis, headaches and migraines, fibromyalgia, nerve pain, back pain and more. It can reduce inflammation and assist in injury recovery and rehabilitation. It can form a safer and more comfortable way to exercise, and can result in a better night’s sleep.
The fact that a spa pool is a tranquil and relaxing escape from life, a device-free oasis where you can spend quality time with your loved ones or on your own, means that it can also be an effective way to manage stress and anxiety too.
Spa pools are only unhealthy if you allow them to be unhealthy by neglecting their upkeep. But if you treat yours well, it can be one of the most powerful health and wellness tools you can buy.
Less work, more play, better water
Since 1980 Hot Spring has been New Zealand’s most trusted spa pool supplier. We’re proud to invest heavily in research and development, which ensures we always sit at the very leading edge of spa pool innovation. Case in point: the FreshWater Salt System.
The Hot Spring FreshWater Salt System uses titanium cartridges to naturally convert salt to chlorine. This sanitation method uses far fewer chemicals, requires far less work, and keeps your water clean, clear, soft and fresh for up to a year!
Ready to feel the Hot Spring difference? Book in your test soak today!