Allergy to water: symptoms and treatment

Many people have not heard of water allergy, as it is a very rare and quite dangerous condition. Until now, Only 40 people in the world are known to have received this diagnosis..

A water allergy causes a person to develop red spots or other types of irritation on their skin when they come into contact with the liquid. It doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold.

Indeed, people with this condition become intolerant of their own sweat or tears. As one can assume, this has serious consequences for leading a normal life.

What is a water allergy?

Water allergy is the popular name given to a condition called aquagenic urticaria. It is a form of urticaria that occurs in contact with water, through the skin or by ingestion.

This rare condition occurs more in women and the first symptoms usually appear in adolescence. This is a paradoxical problem since 60% of the body is made up of water. Even so, those affected develop itchy welts if they come into contact with the liquid.

currently, There is no cure available for a water allergy.although investigations are ongoing in many countries. If the adverse effects take over the throat area, life is in danger.

Causes of water allergy

Science has not yet managed to pinpoint the causes of water allergies. However, there are several hypotheses about it. One of them indicates that the origin is genetic. In particular, it would correspond to a mutation in the gene 2q21the same linked to congenital lactase deficiency.

Another hypothesis indicates that the cause of the allergy is not water as such, but some substances that dissolve in it. It is also claimed that, in contact with the liquid, some peels create a toxic substance that leads to the formation of hives.

Likewise, it has been pointed out that it occurs because those affected have an antigen on their skin that dissolves in contact with water. This substance would activate the immune system.

In the latter case, the idea is proposed that, once dissolved, the antigen would penetrate the outer layers of the skin. This would cause the white blood cells to release histamine. Then the substance causes edema, dilation of the capillaries and all the symptoms of urticaria.

Genetics in water allergy.
A genetic alteration could be the explanation for the allergy to water, since only 40 people in the world suffer from it.


The hallmark symptom of a water allergy is appearance of small red bruises, between 1 and 3 millimeters, on the skin. These appear between 5 and 30 minutes after coming into contact with the liquid. They usually go away on their own after 30-60 minutes.

It is also possible to see small bruises without redness. In any case, there is a burning or itching sensation on the skin.

This allergy can lead to anaphylactic shock.. Serious symptoms are as follows:

  • Wheezing when breathing.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Swollen face.
  • Feeling of having a blockage in the throat


Diagnosis of water allergy should be made by the dermatologist. The usual thing is to do a simple test, which consists of the following:

  1. Place a paper towel soaked in water on the person’s back, at a temperature of 35 degrees Celsius.
  2. Wait between 15 and 30 minutes.
  3. If after this time the characteristic bruises appear, the test is considered positive for water allergy.

It is important to rule out other similar conditions, such as the following:

  • Aquagenic itch: the reaction does not cause hives, but itching. It is almost always limited to the lower limbs.
  • Cholinergic urticaria: the lesions are similar, but are not formed only by contact with water.
  • Urticaria in the fridge: there is an allergic reaction to cold, but not warm or hot water.

Treatment of water allergy

Water allergy is incurable, but a palliative approach can be offered. It should be noted that some people have only a mild, tolerable reaction. In such cases, no action is taken unless the situation gets worse.

The usual treatment, when symptoms are more intense, focuses on the use of antihistamines. These should be ingested 2 hours before coming into contact with water.

Anticholinergics, such as scopolamine, may also be prescribed. Similarly, barrier creams or oils are sometimes used. Usually in people who participate in water sports.

The following treatments may also be effective:

  • Ultraviolet light: UVA radiation is used, along with oral administration of psoralens. This may reduce the skin’s response to water contact.
  • Desensitization: It is a technique used in several allergies. Acts like a vaccine. It consists of exposing the patient to water gradually and gradually, until he develops tolerance.
Phototherapy for water allergy.
Phototherapy with UVA light is used in aesthetics, but also in dermatological treatments of pathologies, such as psoriasis or water allergy.

Patient counseling and care

No person can completely refrain from coming into contact with water. Therefore, what is indicated is to take measures so that the pathology is not an absolute limitation.

The most recommended are these tips:

  • take short showers and only 2 or 3 times a week.
  • Wear light cotton clothing to shower if direct contact cannot be resisted.
  • Increase the consumption of fruit and vegetables. This helps compensate for the lack of hydration.
  • Change the water for sodas or juices.
  • Drink water using a straw. This prevents water from coming into contact with your lips.
  • Protect yourself from the rain. It is important to pay attention to the weather forecast.
  • Do not engage in physical activities that involve excessive sweating.
  • apply lanolin oil or creams to protect the skin.
  • Avoid contact with the sea and swimming pools.

The most important thing is to follow the dermatologist’s recommendations to the letter. Every case is different.

Research is currently underway in various countries to find the causes of water allergies and its possible cure. Some experimental drugs seem to work well.

The post Water Allergy: Symptoms and Treatment first appeared in research-school.



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