Allergic to Water

Imagine taking a shower or going for a swim, and a few minutes later, it feels like your skin is burning.  Or going to the drinking fountain and feeling short of breath as if your throat were closing.  You may be allergic to water.

It is called aquagenic urticaria.  The condition occurs after almost any significant exposure to water.  The reaction isn’t a typical allergy — more accurately, it’s a hypersensitivity to water as the condition does not cause the release of histamine.   Warmer water causes worse reactions, but reactions happen regardless of water temperature.  Drinking water can cause one’s throat to swell up inside.

To make matters worse?  Perspiration can trigger a reaction in those with the allergy.  Imagine not being able to sweat without breaking out in a rash, and, if you do get sweaty, not being able to shower.  It’s extremely rare — there are only a few dozen cases known to exist — but it’s definitely real, as this lady and this young woman can attest.  (Those links have pictures with the rash outbreaks, so if that’s going to bother you, don’t click.)


Bonus Fact:  You can be addicted to drinking water, too, but that is typically a symptom, not a condition itself, as discussed in this New York Times Magazine article.

Related: “Food Allergies and Food Intolerance: The Complete Guide to Their Identification and Treatment” by Jonathan Brostoff. Sixteen reviews averaging 4.5 stars.