Woman Has Ultra Rare Allergic Reaction To Water
A woman with a rare allergy to water has spoken about the struggles she faces living with the condition.
Niah Selway, 21, from Hastings, East Sussex, has Aquagenic Pruritus, which triggers severe reactions when she comes into contact with water - including her own tears and sweat.
The reactions are so strong that a single drop of water coming into contact with her body is enough to leave her with an 'intense burning' sensation all over her body that can last for hours.
The condition has no known cause and is thought to only affect a few people worldwide.
Niah's internal organs aren't affected by the condition, so she is able to drink water but if it touches her skin it's a different matter.
She now runs a YouTube channel - where she's known as the 'girl who is allergic to water' - and has 10,000 subscribers.
Niah said: "I am suffering in a really severe way, and no medication or treatment has had any substantial effect.
"It doesn't matter where the water touches me, if a drop touches my arm the pain will spread to my back and torso, sometimes to my whole body.
"When I have a bath my whole body burns for hours on end.
"Over time I worked out a routine, either way it's painful but I have found ways to make it a little less traumatic.
"For instance, I don't wash my hair in the bath anymore, I do it separately to feel less pain.
"There are so many things people don't think about, such as sweat, urine and tears.
"Sometimes I'll have a reaction on my body, I'll start crying because of it and have one on my face too.
"It is basically a disability because of the things I can no longer do.
"In the morning I get to the toilet and I'll have an allergic reaction to the first thing I do.
"I also can't do much exercise apart from yoga and walking because I can't sweat, and on hot days I'll have to be stuck in front of the fan.
"My day is working around my pain."
Niah first experienced reactions to water when she was around five year's old that got worse as she got older, becoming even more severe over the past couple of years.
"Initially it would happen about every 10 showers," Niah explained.
"The doctors weren't showing any concern for it, so I thought maybe I am just not good at dealing with pain.
"Then in my teens it became every single shower or bath, and it got to the point where I wasn't able to ignore it."
As yet, doctors haven't been able to find any treatment or cure for Niah's symptoms.
Niah says the support from her family and boyfriend have helped get her through the hard times and she now tries to concentrate on being positive.
Niah said: "I stopped focusing on what's going to happen and try to make now as positive as it can be.
"My family have been amazing, even in little things, like doing the dishes.
"They just take all water-related responsibilities away from me, and they have adapted their lives around mine.
"I always worried when my condition got bad that my friends would leave me because I couldn't do stuff with them, like going out and clubbing.
"But they are amazing, they are really understanding and make any effort to try and see me."
Due to her condition Niah is barely able to leave the house and will soon be declared unfit to work in her job at an insurance company.
She added: "There are days when my skin is awful from time to finish, and I just spend my time looking after my illness.
"The thought of rain is also terrifying, so I never go outside if there's the chance it's going to rain.
"I am in my own little bubble trying to deal with the pain, and I do what I can whenever it stops."
Despite all of this, Niah says she tries to keep happy; adding: "I gained the ability to enjoy small things and not to be focused on the future, on the fact that I might not be able to work or have children.
"I only have time for positivity and people I love.
"If you weigh up how much of my time I spend in pain, I don't think I should waste any of what's left for myself.
"I am less worried about what other people are up to, what they do, what they think.
"I just try to do my best with the couple of hours that I have without the allergic reactions."
Dr Adil Sheraz, consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation spokesperson, said: "Aquagenic Pruritus is an uncommon and distressing condition that results in severe itching almost immediately after contact with water.
"There is no visible change on the skin, the itching can last for an hour or more.
"Underlying causes for AP remain unknown, theories proposed include breakdown of mast cells that lead to histamine and thus an itch.
"Although this is an uncommon condition it is probably under-reported and misdiagnosed."
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