Student Is Allergic To Water And Comes Out In Rashes When She Sweats
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A student who is allergic to water has opened up about her rare condition, which causes her to come out in a bright rash when she sweats, cries and showers.
Tessa Hansen-Smith, from California, US, was diagnosed with aquagenic urticaria at the age of just 10, and says it dominates her life.
It affects her to such an extent that she has to be shuttled around her university campus so that she doesn't break out in a sweat.
She is now speaking out to shine a light on her condition and to help others like her.
The 21-year-old said: "It's a really difficult condition to have as I'm even allergic to my own tears, saliva and sweat. I'm really prone to heat exhaustion and have to avoid physical activity.
"I even have to be shuttled around my campus at college because otherwise I show up to my class with a fever, migraine and rashes making it really difficult to concentrate.
"I suffer with a lot of muscle fatigue and nausea too; the sickness is usually caused by me eating something with a lot of water in foods like some fruits and vegetables.
"Even drinking water can cause cuts on my tongue."
Tessa's family first noticed something was wrong when, at the age of just eight, she began to break out in a rash after having a shower.
At the time, they put it down to being allergic to a certain kind of soap.
"With this in mind," says Tess, "We one by one took them out to see which products I didn't react to.
"To help the rashes I'd take an allergy tablet which got rid of them but aquagenic urticaria gets worse with age, so that no longer works for me like it did."
Once they realised it wasn't a simple soap allergy, Tess and her mum did their own research to get to the bottom of her mysterious outbreaks.
She now takes nine tablets a day in the hope of keeping her illness at bay.
The student said: "Having aquagenic urticaria can be a mental game at times - it's hard to take so many tablets everyday knowing that it's not actually ever going to stop.
"At one point I was taking 12 tablets a day; currently I'm taking nine.
"I'm frequently reminded that there's no cure to aquagenic urticaria and that I'll never really be fully better which is definitely a difficult thing to hear sometimes."
But despite the daily challenges Tessa faces, she is adamant that she will not let her condition determine the rest of her life.
She said: "I have always been very determined to be independent and leave my home town for college.
"I try my best to take things one day at a time because some days are better than others.
"If I'm able to see my friends and loved ones without having to leave early due to feeling sick, or make it to all my classes in one day, I see that as a win in my book."