What Are the Pink Spots in My Shower?

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Pink spots in your shower can indicate bacterial growth.
Pink spots in your shower can indicate bacterial growth. (Image: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Showers areas can be particularly challenging to keep clean. Getting rid of soap scum around your shower tiles may be a nuisance, but the constant moisture can also help various types of mold and mildew to spawn and thrive. If you happen to notice areas or spots in your shower with a pinkish hue, it could indicate a bacterial growth that should be addressed quickly to avoid potentially serious problems.

Origin of Pink Spots

Pink spots or blotches in your shower stall or walls can indicate the presence of Serratia marcescens, a type of bacteria. Serratia marcescens, which appears as a pink-hued residue, is produced naturally in animals and food, but it also feeds on phosphates, dust particles and moisture that help it thrive in showers and bathrooms. Serratia marcescens is an airborne bacteria. Dust particles can carry the bacteria from one location to another, where it settles in the form of pink spots.

Problems

Pink spots in your shower caused by bacteria not only makes your shower look unsightly, it can also cause health-related problems. Direct contact with Serratia marcescens can lead to pneumonia, urinary tract infections, meningitis, eye infections and other potential health issues. Any pink spots you find in your shower or bath area should be removed immediately to prevent potential health issues from arising.

Causes

Leaving bathroom windows open can invite dust particles that carry the Serratia marcescens bacteria into the shower area, where it can settle and thrive. Renovation and demolition work can also spray out bacteria-laden dust, which can then make its way into the bathroom area. Reduced chlorine levels in tap water, often resulting from the use of carbon filters, can promote the growth of Serratia marcescens.

Removal

You can remove pink spots by using a solution of 2 tablespoons of ammonia-free liquid detergent mixed with 1 cup of chlorine bleach. Scrubbing the contaminated area with a scouring pad or a scrub brush then allowing the surface to dry and rinsing it with clean water typically gets rid of Serratia marcescens. You can help prevent future outbreaks by limiting the exposure of dust in your bathroom area, keeping the bathroom ventilated for 15 minutes after taking a shower or bath and using a spray cleaner in your shower on a daily basis to keep the area free of mold.

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