A 25-year-old woman says she is allergic to water, noting that she cannot even drink, bathe, sweat, or cry without breaking out and bleeding due to the “invisible illness.”
Tessa Hansen-Smith, a Fresno, California woman, says she has a rare condition that causes her to break out in welts and hives from her tears and sweat and water put on her skin whenever she showers, etc.
Speaking with ABC 30, Hansen-Smith said, “I would come out of showers and have huge welts on my skin, and my scalp would be bleeding after showering. So, the first things we kind of did was, ‘Okay, let’s take away your shampoos, take away your conditioner, take away any soaps you’re using.’”
Hansen-Smith said that when she was a little girl, she used to go swimming, like normal kids, take baths, and drink lots of water, but then she began developing mysterious symptoms that abruptly changed her life forever.
According to the National Institute of Health, the woman is officially allergic to water, and her allergy is being called Aquagenic Urticaria. It is described as a “rare condition in which urticaria (hives) develop rapidly after the skin comes in contact with water, regardless of its temperature.” While the causes are unknown, “it most commonly affects women.” Reportedly, the illness affects less than 250 people worldwide.
The woman said that since learning of her mysterious illness and being diagnosed allergic to water, any type of variation of water (crying, seat, etc.) causes her to itch, and develop rashes and hives on her skin. She also said that if she drinks water, she will begin to feel a burning sensation in her throat and body, and/or experience a break out and bleeding. Subsequently, she mostly drinks milk since the water content isn’t as high due to all of the proteins, fats, and sugars found inside.
Hansen-Smith also detailed what she has to do to clean her body since she cannot take showers without breaking out and bleeding. On Instagram, she said, “I’ve cleaned my body with wet towelettes designed for it here and there, but even then those hurt. I can keep body odor to a minimum by shaving and using deodorant where appropriate.”
She also explained that sometimes she will need to take a shower because of how “dirty” she can get, but added that she tries not to “do a whole lot that makes [her] sweat and get very dirty,” since she’s allergic to water and cannot shower as freely as others. She said, “Standing in a shower for more than 5 minutes, while also trying to not pass out as I hyperventilate while there’s water hitting me, is not a relaxing self-care experience like it can be for others.”
The woman explained that she’s undergone years of testing and has been seen by several specialists, but her “closest doctor,” her mother Dr. Karen Hansen-Smith, has stated, “I feel a little guilty as a mom for not having seen when she would get out of the shower that she had hives and figuring it out way earlier that it was a water issue.”
The woman’s mother said that as a family medicine physician, she has encountered many rare illnesses, but when it came to watching her daughter suffer with one, things became very difficult for her to handle. She said, “It is heartbreaking. I still have my daughter, she’s 25. She’s not living the life she wanted to live.”