All living creatures are dependent on water to live. When it comes to humans, our brains and hearts are composed of around 70 percent water, while our lungs contain a massive 80 percent – even our bones are about 30 percent water.
To survive, we need around 2.4 litres daily, some of which we get from food. But what happens if the individual is allergic to water?
According to ABC News, that is the case for a rare few who have a condition called aquagenic urticaria.
SHOWERS ARE UNCOMFORTABLE EXPERIENCES
Getting out of the shower should have felt refreshing, but Michaela Dutton felt miserable and itchy after her shower. She experienced redness and itching and even some blisters.
Dutton, 21 was shocked to learn she was allergic to water.
While most people are allergic to dust and some forms of metal such as nickel, only about 30 to 40 people worldwide have ever been diagnosed with water allergy.
For some, the symptoms can be life changing. In very severe cases, individuals may have similar symptoms in their throat if they attempt to drink water.
CAUSE OF AQUAGENIC URTICARIA
No one is quite sure why some individuals have this strange reaction to water, although MD Health suggests that it may have to do with an individual’s genetic make-up, specifically on chromosome 2q21.
Medical Daily explains scientists are also not sure what causes the allergy, although they hypothesize that it is either caused by a substance dissolved in the water rather than the water itself, or an interaction between water and a substance (such as oil) found on the skin.
The condition is more common in women than men, and usually begins after puberty, although it can begin much later in life as well. One of the symptoms is itchy hives (sopak) develop rapidly after the skin comes in contact with water, regardless of its temperature.
The hives associated with aquagenic urticaria are typically small (approximately 1-3 mm), red or skin-colored welts with clearly defined edges (bengkak yang berwarna merah atau mengikut warna kulit yang jelas kelihatan).
The rash most commonly forms on the neck, upper trunk (bahagian atas tubuh) and arms, although it can occur anywhere on the body. Once the water source is removed, the rash generally fades within 30 to 60 minutes, the website Rare Diseases explains.
Because it is a rare condition, there is very limited data regarding the effectiveness of individual treatments for this disease.
However, antihistamines and steroids have been proven useful for some individuals. Besides that, according to the website Medical Daily, Ultraviolet B light treatments and using a cream as a barrier to reduce contact between the skin and water may also help.
LIVING WITH AQUAGENIC URTICARIA
Another individual, named Alexandra Allen, was diagnosed with aquagenic urticaria in 2013 – her allergy to water means she has to limit her cleaning rituals to 5-minute cold showers twice a week, cut her hair short and became a vegetarian in order for her body to produce less oil.
People with the condition controls their eating habits of eating certain fruits and vegetables with high water content, and often chose to drink soft-drinks instead of tea, coffee, or juice.
Besides watching one’s diet, a person living with aquagenic urticaria has to keep a number of some external factors in check, such as sweat and tears, and to keep their exposure to rain and humid conditions to a minimum as to avoid hives, swelling, and pain.
As you can imagine it can be a challenge to control emotional reactions – no tears! – as well as the effects of exercise to those who have this disease is a tremendous challenge.