Water allergy, known scientifically as aquagenic urticaria, is a rare disease in which the skin develops red and irritated spots shortly after skin contact with water, regardless of its temperature or composition. Thus, people with this condition usually have allergies to any type of water, be it sea, pool, sweat, hot, cold or even filtered to drink, for example.
Generally, this type of allergy is more common in women, but it can also happen in men and the first symptoms usually appear in adolescence.
Since the cause of this disease is not yet known, there is also no treatment to cure it. However, the dermatologist may advise the use of some techniques, such as exposure to UV rays or taking antihistamines to relieve discomfort.
The most common symptoms of a water allergy include:
- Red spots on the skin that appear after contact with water;
- Itching or burning sensation in the skin;
- Swollen spots on the skin without redness.
These signs usually appear in places close to the head, such as the neck, arms or chest, but they can also spread throughout the body, depending on the region that has been in contact with the water. These spots tend to disappear about 30 to 60 minutes after removing contact with water.
In more serious situations, this type of allergy can also cause an anaphylactic shock with symptoms such as feeling short of breath, wheezing when breathing, feeling of a ball in the throat or swollen face, for example. In these cases, you should immediately go to the hospital to start treatment and avoid running out of air. Find out more about what anaphylactic shock is and what to do .
How to confirm the diagnosis
The diagnosis of water allergy should always be made by a dermatologist as it is necessary to study the entire clinical history, as well as the type of symptoms.
However, there is a test that can be done by the doctor to identify whether the cause of the stains is really water. In this test, the dermatologist dips a gauze in the water at 35ºC and places it on a chest area. After 15 minutes, assess whether spots have appeared on the site and if they did, evaluate the type of spot and the symptoms involved, to arrive at the correct diagnosis.
How to treat allergy
Although there is no cure for water allergy, there are some forms of treatment that can be indicated by the dermatologist to relieve discomfort:
- Antihistamines, such as Cetirizine or Hydroxyzine: decrease the levels of histamine in the body, which is the substance responsible for the appearance of allergy symptoms and, therefore, can be used after contact with water to relieve discomfort;
- Anticholinergics, such as Scopolamine: also seem to reduce symptoms when used before exposure;
- Barrier creams or oils: more suitable for people who practice physical activities or who need to come in contact with water, to apply before exposure, relieving discomfort.
In the most severe cases, in which symptoms of anaphylactic shock usually appear, the doctor may also prescribe an epinephrine pen , which must always be carried in a bag so that it can be used in emergency situations.
Care to avoid allergy
The best way to prevent the appearance of allergy symptoms is to avoid skin contact with water, however, this is not always possible, especially when you need to bathe or drink water.
So, some techniques that can help include:
- Do not bathe in the sea or in the pool;
- Take only 1 to 2 baths per week , for less than 1 minute;
- Avoid doing intense physical exercise that causes a lot of sweat;
- Drink water using a straw to avoid water contact with your lips.
In addition, applying creams for extra dry skin, such as Nivea or Vasenol, as well as sweet almond oil or petroleum jelly can also help to relieve symptoms, as they create a barrier between skin and water, especially during rainy periods or when it is difficult to avoid accidental contact with water.
Why allergy happens
There is still no definite cause for the emergence of water allergy, however, scientists point out 2 possible theories. The first is that the allergy is actually caused by substances that are dissolved in water and end up entering the body through the pores and causing an exaggerated response by the immune system.
However, the other theory says that allergy arises because, in affected people, the contact of water molecules with the skin creates a toxic substance that leads to the appearance of spots.
Check out other diseases that can lead to the appearance of red spots on the skin .