Is It Possible To Be Allergic To Water?

Water is an essential element that is crucial to your overall health and survival. Water makes up 60% of the human body and helps it perform its most basic and vital functions (via Women's Health) — but is it possible to be allergic to water? As it turns out, the answer is yes. Although it is rare, there is such a thing as a water allergy. The medical term for this rare condition is known as aquagenic urticaria — an allergic reaction triggered by skin contact with water (via Insider).

Aquagenic urticaria is a condition that causes hives and an itchy rash to form on the skin shortly after touching or coming in contact with water. Hives from this reaction can be triggered by any source of water, including natural body fluids like tears and sweat. However, they usually resolve on their own within about an hour.

"Taking a shower, for example, or sweating, is then usually followed by wheals of the entire skin within a couple of minutes, whereas crying-induced signs and symptoms are limited to the areas where the tears touch the skin," Dr. Marcus Maurer, a professor of Dermatology and Allergy at the Charité University Hospital in Berlin, told Insider.

What are the symptoms of aquagenic urticaria?

While the exact cause of aquagenic urticaria is still unknown, the allergic reaction is the result of the body releasing histamine after direct contact with water. This immune response causes the skin in the affected area to become painful, itchy, and irritated (via Women's Health).

Although the severity of the reaction depends on the person, most cases of aquagenic urticaria are not life-threatening and usually dissipate just as quickly as they appear. Within minutes of coming in contact with water, people with aquagenic urticaria can experience hives, welts, a painful and itchy rash, swelling, inflammation, and a burning sensation.

Hives can appear anywhere on the body, but the rash is usually confined to the arms, neck, and chest area (via National Institutes of Health). According to Women's Health, people with more severe cases can experience wheezing and difficulty breathing and may even go into anaphylactic shock. As a result, an EpiPen may be needed in the event of an extreme reaction.