Humans are made up of roughly 60% water.
It is one of the main components that form the structure of life on earth, and is what we primarily look for when searching for life on other planets.
With that said, it’s incredible to think that some of us are allergic to water.
It’s not always pollen, peanut butter, or cats and dogs that cause people to have allergic reactions. Sometimes, allergens can be some of the most common things on earth.
Water is actually one of the substances that can cause people to break out with an allergic reaction. If these individuals come into contact with water at any temperature, their skin will break out in hives – or possibly even worse.
There are some people out there who simply cannot touch water at all, and drinking too much will leave them gasping for breath.
But how many people are actually allergic to water? Why does it even occur? What are the symptoms on if it is occurring?
To answer these questions, we have made this guide for everything you need to know about being allergic to water, or having aquagenic urticaria.
How Can You Be Allergic to Water?
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Well, to begin, let’s go over how allergies occur in the first place.
Usually, allergies are caused by outdoor substances like pollen or mold spores that are creating and released into the air from trees, grasses, and weeds. However, things found indoors such as dust mites and indoor mold are also major causes of winter allergies.
These allergens, when released into the air and as we inhale them and come into contact with them, are perceived as threats to some people’s immune systems.
These people have what is known as “allergies.”
Because people with allergies have immune systems that react to harmless allergens like they were viruses, and because allergens are so numerous in numbers, the result is sneezing, itchy eyes, and runny noses – everything necessary to get rid of a would–be virus.
And for all of us with allergies that hear this fact for the first time (like me), you will probably begin to resent your immune system a little bit.
It does amazing things, but sometimes even an immune system can be wrong.
And that’s definitely the case with those who are allergic to water.
Their bodies, like those allergic to pollen, peanut butter, or dust mites, perceive it as a threat that must be counter–attacked.
Although little is known as to what exactly it is in water that acts as the allergen and triggers an allergic response, there are certainly people who cannot come into contact with water without getting hives.
And below are some of the symptoms to look out for.
What Are the Symptoms?
Image by : Dhyamis Kleber
Being allergic to water comes with its own set of symptoms that can quickly be identified when coming into contact with water
People who are allergic to water will experience the following symptoms in varying degrees:
- Red and itchy eyes
- Burning sensations upon contact with or shortly after touching water
- Lesions that appear, welts, and inflammation after baths or showers
- In severe cases, drinking water will cause someone allergic to have a rash around the mouth, have an inflamed throat and find it hard to swallow and/or wheezing and difficulty breathing
If any of these occur after you or someone you know takes a bath, showers, or goes swimming, they could be allergic to water. But this is a very rare thing to see.
How Many People Are Allergic to Water?
If you are fearful about becoming allergic to water, or are concerned that your kids may be, I wouldn’t be too worried.
It is a very rare thing to occur, and apparently only 1 in 230 million people in the world are affected each year by being allergic to water.
That’s about the same odds of being struck by lightning, and I doubt you worry more than five times a year about something like that. (And if you do more, you probably shouldn’t).
That means only a handful of people are actually allergic to water on the entire planet.
This is also why there is such a lack of studies done on the condition itself: it is such a rare condition that it is hard to find patients to do testing on.
So, don’t be too afraid of someone you love being allergic to water. It probably isn’t the case.
But just in case, let’s go over how testing is done to see if you’re allergic to water.
How Do You Detect if You’re Allergic to Water?
There are tests that you can perform if you are concerned that you are allergic to water.
Usually, the test will involve applying water to the upper body for a certain time period – typically 30 minutes – and seeing if an allergic response occurs.
If your body reacts by becoming inflamed or itchy, then chances are you have an allergy to water – unfortunately.
But this is a small amount of water applied to the skin, and in cases where there might be less of an allergic reaction the patient may be asked to take a bath or shower to see the effects from a larger sample of water.
But, again, like I stated above, it’s VERY rare.
Sadly, Treatment is Limited
With any extremely rare condition there is a lack of understanding about what it exactly is and how it can be prevented.
Being allergic to water is no different.
Researchers aren’t even sure as to what it is in water that causes the reaction, and that makes knowing what you need to stop it fairly difficult.
But that doesn’t mean there are zero steps to help symptoms. Like any allergy, people can do the following things:
- Antihistamines: These are usually always helpful because they block the histamines that are produced to combat allergens our bodies perceive as threats – hence the name “anti” –histamines.
- Propranolol: Although it is usually used to treat illnesses relating to the heart – such as high blood pressure and irregular heart rhythms – propranolol has been somewhat successful for treating people allergic to water.
- Creams: There are certain creams that are available that can coat your skin and prevent it from touching any water when bathing, showering, or swimming.
But simply applying things to prevent contact with water is one thing.
People with this allergy also have to restrict their diets as well.
Life Being Allergic to Water
There are different degrees to water allergies.
Like any other illness.
But, if you’re like this 18–month toddler, even a 15–second bath will leave her with hives and blisters on her body.
That’s pretty awful.
And her reactions can last for up to an hour at a time, leaving her screaming that she’s hot. For this child, antihistamines only reduce the time she spends in excruciating pain.
People who are similar to this child have to live their lives being careful of things with too much water. That means limiting the amount of substances they drink that contain water and the amount of fruits and veggies they eat.
But not only that, they also have to dodge the snow and rain whenever the weather takes a turn for the worse.
Yes, You Can Be Allergic to Water
Regardless of what is making people react with an allergic outbreak in water, the point is that water has something within it that is acting as an allergen.
And even if there are only a handful of people around the world that are impacted by the disease, it certainly happens enough to make news headlines.
Being allergic to water has to be one of the most difficult allergies to deal with – especially if you suffer from severe outbreaks by only seconds of contact with water like the toddler mentioned above. People like this will never live normally.
Although allergies to water can come in different levels, it still means having to watch out for storms, too much fruit, and juices that contain water.
So, we hope this guide helped you understand more about how people can be allergic to water!