A 23-year-old woman from Idaho, USA, has an extremely rare allergy, which leaves her unable to shower due to extreme pain that she feels when water touches her sensitive skin.
Rachael Fetter, who is from Rathdrum, Idaho, has aquagenic urticaria.
The allergy that she has only affected her when she gets in contact with water.
Fetter, who is a veterinary technician, was diagnosed with the extremely rare allergy in July 2019, after painful hives began developing on her skin.
She said that she started to get the painful hives on her skin when she showered, got exposed to raindrops, or when she washed her hands.
The poor woman also finds herself breaking out in rashes when she gets too much sweat or when she drinks more than half a cup of water at a single standing.
When she drinks that much water, she vomits and feels extremely sick.
The allergy has only been reported with 50 people out of all humans that are living today.
Rachael only can wash or shower 2 times per week. The hives that she gets can last for 2 days.
Talking about her condition, Rachael said:
I first began having bad reactions to water when I was 18. I remember taking a shower, and as I was drying off I noticed a rash. I thought it was just the soap that I was using, so I tried a different brand. But then every time I took a shower, I was getting hives. The pain got worse over time and soon I was ending up in tears each time. I only began seeing doctors about my skin at the start of 2019.
After getting the painful hives, the poor woman consulted her primary physician, a dermatologist, and an allergist so she could get answers.
Local doctors conducted skins biopsies and did confirm that it was the aquagenic urticaria, however, they tried to attempt and treat the symptoms.
Mayo Clinic also confirmed that Rachael did have the aquagenic urticarial.
When asked what she felt, she said:
I was relieved that I had an answer and to know I was not alone. There are so few people that have the condition that it can be very isolating.
The longer the water touches the skin of Rachael, the worse she gets the hives.
The marks are visible for just a couple of hours, however, the burning sensation that she gets lasts for a lot of days.
In order to manage her condition, Rachael needs to plan for her showers ahead of time and has to take pain medication in advance when she works.
Talking about her lifestyle, she said:
I shower twice a week, mainly just to wash my hair. I make it as fast as possible, usually five minutes max. It doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold water, but most of my showers are with cold water, because hot water makes things worse. I get in and get out, and as soon as water huts my skin it feels like I’m being burnt. When I’m done I have to sit down due to hives on the bottom of my feet.
The amazing part of this is that IV fluids do not affect Rachael.
She said that she enjoys going to get fluids as she cannot drink water on her own.
Rachael now wants to share her unique story so she could help people information about the extremely rare allergy.
She also hopes her story will help people suffering from the same condition to feel less alone.
Aquagenic urticaria has impacted my life. I can’t go swimming or get wet inthe rain. I get frustrated with my body but I know I’m trying my best. I want people to know water allergy is a real thing and it affects my life on a daily basis. I hope one day there will be a cure. Until then I’ll continue to take medications and stay as dry as possible.
Share this story with your friends and help Rachael increase awareness about this extremely rare allergy.