Utah Teen Battles Rare Water Allergy

Utah Teen Battles Rare Water Allergy
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David Pursehouse Pool Utah Teen Battles Rare Water Allergy
Image from Flickr by David Pursehouse

A Utah teenager who aspires to be a marine biologist woke up one morning with the realization that dreams always don’t come true. Seventeen-year-old Alexandra Allen was diagnosed with a rare water allergy when she was 12. A dip into her family’s new hot tub proved dangerous for her.


Recalling the trauma, Alexander said she inflicted the disease while she was on vacation with her family when she was 12. She enjoyed swimming in the pool and woke up the next morning with itching and rashes all over her body.

“I swelled up in hives everywhere,” she said, as quoted by Deseret News. Doctors then concluded that she experienced a reaction to hard water or to the potent chemicals present in the tub.

“I remember sitting in the bathroom trying so hard not to scratch myself and make it worse until my mom came back with the Benadryl,” she told ABC News.

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At first Allen thought it was a simple allergy, so she avoided swimming in pools. But later she discovered that the problem was much larger.

When Allen was about 15, she came across an article on a medical website that highlighted a rare disease called ‘aquagenic urticarial’, which may arise when dry skin and dry eyes come in contact with water. It perfectly matched to her symptoms.

Dr. Barney J. Kenet, a dermatologist working for the Cornell Medical Center, explained that aquagenic urticarial is a rare disease only seen in 50 cases.

“It’s a real thing. We learn about it in medical school, though I have never seen a case in my practice,” Kenet said, as per ABC News.

The allergy may have surfaced when the affected person comes in contact with any form of water, such as rain, snow, sweat or tears, according to an article published in the Journal of Allergy Immunological Practice. It further explains that the rare water disease affect women more than men during the first phase of puberty.

“Every doctor I see about it is surprised and looks at me like I’m crazy,” said Allen, a Springville High student.

Alexandra also suffers from severe dyslexia and attention deficit disorder. “I think I’m lucky, compared to a lot of other diseases I could have had,” she said. “At least this is tolerable and manageable.”

Despite the shortcomings, Alexandra Allen did not let her disease come in the way of her studies and dreams. She is a brilliant student, excelling in her studies and showing keen interest in blogs, playing rugby, and rock climbing.