About 60 percent of our human body is made up of water. That makes us highly compatible to this life-giving liquid. But a toddler — who suffers from a rare and mysterious disease that makes her allergic to water — is proving otherwise.
18-month-old Ivy Lynn Angerman from Minnesota USA reportedly has what is called aquagenic urticaria. This is a rare condition wherein a person develops hives and irritable rashes when in contact with water.
Simply put, Ivy is allergic to water.
At first her rashes looked like some “random allergic reactions”
Her condition came to light when Ivy was a year old and her mother Brittany Angerman, 27, noticed the hives during her bath times.
At first, Angerman thought them to be “random allergic reactions.” She believed that bath soaps and shampoos were perhaps causing them to appear on her daughter’s body. She also noticed that her daughter was in pain, each time she was taken in for a bath.
So the couple decided to try different techniques.
They changed the bath soaps and shampoos, they changed the water, they tried bathing her in different places including hotels. But alas! They couldn’t figure out the exact cause behind the painful rashes.
So a doctor was their last resort. And unfortunately, when they received the final diagnosis last October, they were in for a shock.
Ivy Lynn was allergic to water, the doctors diagnosed
The doctors told the Angermans that their 18-month-old daughter had a very rare condition that affected only 50 people across the globe.
She was in fact, allergic to water. She cannot bathe in it for more than 20 seconds. Her condition also makes her body susceptible to her own tears and sweat.
A fraught Angerman told Metro, “When she was diagnosed my heart hit the floor, we were all very upset and shocked. She tries to climb up the wall of the bath because it’s hurting her and she wants to get out.”
“Ivy used to love the water, but now she’s terrified of it.”| Image courtesy: Metro, UK/screengrab
“It’s really hard, it breaks my heart”
“She then starts crying from the pain and this means her face starts to blister because she’s allergic to them too. It’s very difficult for me as a parent because she wants to cry, she’s a girl and will want to cry a lot,” shares Angerman.
She also adds that painfully so, she is teaching her daughter not to cry and hide her pain. “I’m going to have to teach her to not cry and try to hide it or bring it out in some other way,” says Angerman.
“It’s really hard, it breaks my heart, everything about it makes me upset,” she adds.
The parents also shared that their young daughter used to love water. But now, it terrifies her.
Water terrifies Ivy Lynn now
“Ivy used to love the water, she used to love playing about with the hose in the back yard in the summer, but now she’s terrified of it and as a mother it makes me incredibly sad,” shared the 27-year-old mother.
She added, “I’m constantly asked questions like ‘How can she be allergic to water when she’s made of it?’ but people don’t understand that it can and has happened. You don’t think about the sort of obstacles that can come up – the rain can set her allergies off so you have to make sure she’s covered up.”
How the Angermans keep Ivy clean
At the moment, Ivy is able to, thankfully, drink water. But her parents are careful not to bathe her more than once a week. They use wipes and sponges to keep her clean.
The doctors have also recommended that Ivy bathe and drink purified water and stay inside in central air conditioning. Some experts are of the view that it is not the water itself but an allergen in it that results in the hives. That substance triggers an immune response in the body.
Ivy’s treatment is an expensive process. So the family has now started a GoFundMe page to raise up to $50,000 to cover the medical expenses.
Worried about their daughters’ future
However, all these measures have made the Angermans worried about their daughter’s future — both physical as well as psychological.
“I’m concerned – what happens if one day a child at school decides to pour water over her? I’m worried she will get bullied or teased for it when she’s older. She’s going to miss out on certain activities and won’t be able to do everything her friends will,” shares the worried mom who gives antihistamines to Ivy to keep the condition under control.
The family is planning to move away from Minnesota soon, to a dry place. “It’s very tough for the family but we will take each day as it comes and figure out how to do what is best for Ivy,” shared the anxious mom.
Ivy’s rare condition has so far not been studied properly due to lack of case studies. But there are a few things that one can still know about this mysterious illness.
What is aquagenic urticaria?
As mentioned, it a condition in which a person becomes allergic to water. They develop hives and rashes all over the body. However, the condition is not due to water itself.
As per the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Centre (GARD), scientists have proposed the following theories to understand the underlying causes of the disease.
- Theory 1. An unknown substance that is dissolved in water enters the skin. It triggers a specific immune response. In this theory, the water does not cause the hives. But rather the allergen present in the water.
- Theory 2. When a substance found on the skin reacts with water and generates some type of a toxic material, it can lead to the formation of hives.
Experts believe that the only way to keep this problem under control is through antihistamines. The GARD suggests the following treatments as well.
Irrespective of any condition, as a rule, when you bathe your child, make sure that the water is clean and boiled, if possible. Use bath salts and soaps only after consulting with your doctor.
And keep an eye on any reaction that your child may have to a chemical substance you use during or after the bath.
Sources: Metro, Newsweek
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Republished with permission from: theAsianParent Singapore