Can You Be Allergic to Water? Here’s What You Need to Know
Imagine being allergic to something you can't live without.
Imagine being allergic to something that's quite literally unavoidable. By unavoidable, I mean your body even makes it itself. That's the case for 21-year-old Niah Selway, who's allergic to water.
Selway, who has nearly 130,000 subscribers on YouTube, can't sweat, cry, or take a shower without experiencing debilitating pain. The condition is called aquagenic pruritus, and it causes her body to feel like it's burning, sometimes for hours, if her skin comes into contact with water. Thankfully, Selway's organs aren't affected, meaning she can still drink water.
Selway lives in the United Kingdom and posts videos about her condition on her YouTube channel. She explains that she would have occasional reactions as a child, but doctors couldn't figure out what she was allergic to. As she got older, the reactions became more frequent, and she was eventually diagnosed with aquagenic pruritus.
According to the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center, aquagenic pruritus has no known cause, though it can run in families. It may be a symptom of an underlying condition, such as blood cancer, though it's not clear if this is the case for Selway.
She explains on her channel that she's tried a number of treatments, and none have worked. Her doctors say there isn't a cure, but Selway is hopeful that she'll grow out of the condition.
"I cannot go for a wee without having an allergic reaction," Selway said in one of her videos. "I have an allergic reaction all over the back of my thighs and my bum and it travels all the way up my back almost every single time that I go to the toilet, so that is at least four times a day, and that's on a good day."
Selway also has to avoid the rain, which makes it difficult for her to leave her home on a rainy day. "Whether I take an umbrella or not, whether I take an all-in-one waterproof wetsuit, there is absolutely no way for me to step outside the house when it's pouring with rain and not get a single drop of water on my skin, because that's all it takes."
She says her reactions can last for up to three hours. She even made a video of herself taking a bath to show her subscribers what it's like to have an allergic reaction to water.
"It's about adjusting, and it's about staying strong," she said, "and it's about using this horrible, horrible experience and this immense challenge to make myself a stronger person and to use it as something to make me grow."