Allergic to Water?

What would it be like if you were allergic to water? Imagine never being able to drink water, take a shower, swim in the pool, or go to the beach. How do you think your life would be? Would you believe me if I said that you can be allergic to water? Well, whether you would or not, it does exist. Aquagenic Urticaria is an extremely rare condition in which being exposed to water makes the victim break out in hives and/or rashes. Don’t worry, it is, as I said before, extremely rare.

Only around thirty-five people out of the seven billion that live on this earth are known to have it. That is only 0.000005%. Symptoms of having this are very much like typical allergic reactions, and usually start around puberty. This being hives, rashes, irritations to the skin, and if you drink it – difficulty breathing. The first one to fifteen minutes after coming in contact with it, the skin symptoms appear.

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After ten minutes to two hours, the skin starts becoming damaged, most likely being cuts. This disease can affect the whole body, or only a certain part of it, with females being more susceptible to Aquagenic Urticaria. People with this disease usually lose blood for a lot longer too, because the disease it “alters the body’s platelet count”.Aquagenic Urticaria has been revealed to be caused my a mutation in Chromosome 3, which harms the body’s “von Willebrand factor receptor1”. There are only a few things that increases the risk of a person having this.

One is lactose intolerance. If there is a female who has a sibling with Bernard-Soulier syndrome2 also have a higher chance of getting this disease. There are more diseases or syndromes which seem to have a connection with Aquagenic Urticaria. These diseases/syndromes are atopy3, cholingergic urticaria4, (polymorphous) light eruption5, HIV infection6, Bernard-Soulier syndrome, and more. You must be wondering how people are diagnosed with Aquagenic Urticaria.

First, the doctor looks at notes from previous visits, looking for any sort of sign to this reaction, including anything which may connect to it. Then, the patient has water applied directly to their upper body for 30 minutes in a water treatment test (this can also be done with a wet towel/paper towel). Usually, doctors try different types of water, like salt water, tap water, and purified (bottled) water. They also try hot and cold water, to see if their condition is linked to another disease or syndrome. There is not a cure for Aquagenic Urticaria. However, there are treatments that can make the patient more comfortable or reduce the effects of this disease.

Some examples are UV radiation, PUVA therapy, or Barrier methods. UV radiation thickens the outer layer of the skin so that water can’t go into the skin/body. When a woman did PUVA therapy [psoralen (P) and ultraviolet A (UVA)] four times a week, it caused the lesions and itching to disappear. Next, Barrier methods are things like emulsion cream which is applied to the skin. Another treatment is capsaicin (Zostrix), which is also used for shingles7.

Usually, the patient is allergic to their own (and others) blood, sweat, and saliva (spit). This means that they cannot kiss or be kissed, clean blood, or sweat (exercise, be in heat, etc.). So next time you drink water, take a nice, long shower, go to the pool, go to the beach, or even go out somewhere in the rain, don’t take it for granted, and be thankful that you can do so many things that about thirty-five people in the world cannot do. Oh, and if you meet someone who is allergic to water, don’t look at them weirdly; instead, be nice, and ask them about it, or ask them if you can do something to help!