You can get molluscum contagiosum from using a hot tub. You are more likely to catch the viral skin infection while using a hot tub because of the environment and people's habits surrounding hot tub use. For example, people enter the hot, humid environment of hot tubs dressed in swimsuits that expose large areas of skin, and lay their towels on common surfaces.
The molluscum contagiosum virus is a member of the poxvirus family. The virus spreads easily from person to person through skin contact, and you can infect yourself by scratching or otherwise disturbing the bumps. The infection is also spread through sharing items such as towels and by coming into contact with infected surfaces or objects.
The virus causes firm pink or flesh-colored bumps on the skin. The bumps are smooth, feature dimpled centers and may contain a cheesy or waxy substance. They don't hurt, but may itch and may redden as the body fights the infection. The bumps may appear on any part of the skin, but rarely affect the palms or the of soles of the feet. They are usually small in both number and size -- under 1/4 inch -- unless the infected individual has a weakened immune system. The bumps may appear from seven weeks to several months after exposure. People showing bumps are contagious.
Molluscum contagiosum thrives in warm, humid locations. Such locations include hot tubs, public pools, showers and any place that provides the warm, wet environment that the virus favors. The infection is commonly seen in children and in people living in tropical areas. The virus may be spread during sexual contact. The virus can also infect animals, according to the Skin Disease Archive. The bumps that mark infection may be confused with several other skin conditions, and it may take up to four months for an outbreak to end, even after treatment, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Disinfection of hot tubs may not be enough to prevent the spread of the virus if people share towels or have contact with surfaces not treated by disinfectant. The CDC recommends using a freshly mixed solution of nine parts water to one part bleach as a disinfectant. Hot tub owners should clean their hot tubs, the surrounding surfaces and any toys or items brought into the tub regularly, and test to ensure they are maintaining free chlorine at the correct levels in their hot tubs. Launder towels in a hot water wash and run them through a hot dryer.
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- American Academy of Dermatology: Molluscum Contagiosum: Signs and Symptoms
- American Academy of Dermatology: Molluscum Contagiosum: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Outcome
- American Academy of Dermatology: Molluscum Contagiosum: Tips for Managing
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Alice Moon is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience. She was chosen as a Smithsonian Institute intern, working for the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and has traveled throughout Asia. Moon holds a Bachelor of Science in political science from Ball State University.