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Hot Tubs, Whirlpools and Swimming Pools

It is extremely unlikely that you will get herpes from a hot tub, whirlpool or swimming pool. A more common problem is folliculitis, a bacterial skin infection.

The herpes viruses are killed almost immediately in chlorinated water, but they can survive for up to five hours on plastic coated benches or seats. Even if you sat on the same spot that a person with active herpetic blisters has just left, you probably wouldn't be infected. To acquire herpes, the virus must pass through broken skin. Herpes often occurs on the genitals because lovemaking can break the skin to let the virus in. Sitting on a seat that has herpes virus on it with broken skin on your buttocks can cause a recurrent herpes infection on the buttocks.

Hot tubs or pools that have not been adequately chlorinated can still give you folliculitis, a condition that causes severe itching and red bumps on the skin. It can be cured with antibiotics, but often goes away by itself without treatment. If you use public hot tubs, pools and whirlpools, sit on a towel on the side of the tub or pool, and shower immediately after you leave the water. If you start to itch, check with your doctor.

Checked 1/31/15

June 10th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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