1) Water in all forms causes irritation
Water in all forms irritates the skin. This, of course, includes tap water, river water, sea water, swimming pool water, rain, and humidity. Unfortunately, sweat, tears, and saliva also cause reactions, and are more difficult to avoid.
2) Lifestyle changing
Having a water allergy is lifestyle changing. Obviously. Everyday tasks like showering, cleaning, exercise, or even just drinking water have to be modified. People with this condition may have to limit showering to a measly 5 minutes twice a week, cut their hair to avoid sweating, change diets, or even move to a less humid or water-prone area.
3) Rash occurs within 15 minutes of contact.
A rash occurs only 15 minutes after contact with water. When the water has been removed, the rash generally fades within 60 minutes. Occasionally hives appear, but even when they don’t, the reaction can be painful and itchy, and may even start to blister.
4) No specific treatment
Because water allergy is so rare, there is currently no condition-specific treatment. There are, however, several general remedies that may help mitigate reactions. H1 antihistamines are most commonly used, but light treatments, steroids, and sodium bicarbonate baths have also been reported to be successful. If an extreme reaction occurs, an epi-pen may be required as well.
5) Diagnosis process
The process of diagnosing water allergy includes a “water challenge test,” where the patient has cold water applied to his or her body for 30 minutes. Generally the water is applied to the upper body because other areas of the body are often inconsistent. If the test declares a negative, a full body shower or bath test may be needed. However, full body tests should never be done on patients who have displayed serious symptoms.
6) More common in women
Water allergy is more commonly diagnosed in women than it is in men. It generally starts to manifest itself during puberty.
7) No known cause
There is no known cause of water allergy. There are, however, several theories. Some scientists think that the allergy is not to the water itself, but to a dissolved substance within the water. Others believe that something on the patient’s skin reacts upon exposure to water. Whatever the exact cause, it is generally accepted that this is not simply an allergy to pure water.
8) Often misdiagnosed
Water allergy is often misdiagnosed. Due to the rarity of the condition, doctors often diagnose it as an allergy to substances commonly found in water like chlorine, salt, or other pollutants.
9) Can result in anaphylactic shock.
Severe cases can lead to anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal. Although symptoms are relatively mild for most patients, severe reactions can occur. Someone experiencing anaphylactic shock should have an epi-pen applied as soon as possible, and bystanders should call 911.
Unfortunately, water allergy is a lifelong struggle. However, studies have shown that as patients age, the severity of symptoms decrease.