Yes, You Can Really Be Allergic to Water

Fewer than 100 cases have even been reported

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You are probably thinking you misread the headline and are ready to swamp the comments section with remarks about the typo. While there may be a few misspellings, water is not one of them.

How can a person be allergic to water if 80 percent of the body is made of this transparent fluid? This is a real, but very rare, condition. Only about 100 cases have ever been documented.

Allergies can be triggered by so many things, including dust or a cell phone, that doctors don’t even think of water in their first 150 possible diagnoses. Finding out the culprit is like a detective’s job – testing everything because anything can be the cause.

Being allergic to the substance that covers 70 percent of the planet is an unforgiving condition called Aquagenic Urticaria. The skin gets itchy and breaks out in rashes after it comes in contact with water. Some patients “explode” in rashes even when they sweat.

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Taking a shower is practically a no-go – a total of a few minutes a week in cold water, which has some health benefits. Hand sanitizers and cleansing wipes will do. Making allergic people sad is a bad idea also because tears can cause hives. Rain and snow have the same effect. On the positive side, if there could ever be one, you’ll never do the laundry or dishes. Also, you’ll always get to stay in an air-conditioned room. But you’ll have to avoid anything that makes you sweat even a little bit. No swimming of any kind.

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But that’s not the worst. Depending on the level of sensitivity, some people can’t drink water or eat certain fruits and vegetables because of their water content. Changing your diet so you don’t eat fatty foods to reduce oils in the skin and to prevent sweating is a must. You basically have to forget about meat and milk products so you can keep your skin as clean and as oil-less as possible in order to avoid having to shower but still maintain proper hygiene.

The allergy is so rare, few scientists have studied it. There is no definitive answer to what causes it. One explanation is that sweat glands produce toxins that cause the rashes. Another is that the skin absorbs antigens that make the immune system produce antibodies after coming in contact with water. A third is that the skin is simply too sensitive to traces of chemicals in the water. Dermatologists seem to agree that higher blood histamine levels have something to do with the allergy but antihistamine drugs don’t help relieve the pain.

As with most allergies, no one can tell how long Aquagenic Urticaria will last. The condition seems to affect more women and the first symptoms appear in teenage years. There is no cure.

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