Woman who is allergic to water

The Woman who is allergic to water

Rachel Warwick is the woman who is allergic to water she has a rare condition called aquagenic urticaria which makes her allergic to water. Racheal is faced with burning pain anytime she drinks or bathes with water. Any contact she has with water whatsoever even her own sweat leaves Rachel with a painful, swollen and intensely itchy rash which can last for several hours. It has been estimated that Aquagenic urticaria affects around one in every 230 million people. By that estimate, there are only 32 people with the condition on the entire planet.

Racheal Says: “The reaction makes me feel as if I’ve run a marathon. I feel really tired afterwards so I have to go and sit down for quite a while,” she says: “It’s horrible, but if I cry my face swells up”.


“When I meet people there’s always a lot of confusion and all the usual questions – ‘how do you eat?’ ‘How do you drink?’ ‘How do you wash?’ The truth is you just have to suck it up and get on with it,” says Rachel.

Rachel was around 12 years old when she was diagnosed, after noticing a rash after swimming. “My doctor heard what I had to say, and he was like ‘I think you have this’. I was really fortunate that he knew about it,” she says.

She wasn’t sent for testing. The standard method for diagnosis is to keep the upper body wet for half an hour and see what happens. “He basically told me that what they’d put me through would be worse than the disease,” she says.

And while surviving with the condition is not a problem, enduring everyday life is another matter. In the winter when it rains a lot, for example, Rachel can’t leave the house.

For everyday activities such as washing up, Rachel’s husband – who is also her official carer – steps in. To wash, she limits herself to showering once a week. To minimise sweating, she wears light clothing and avoids exercise. Like others with the condition, Rachel drinks a lot of milk, since the reaction isn’t as bad as with water.

Rachel said she would like to be able to go to swimming at the leisure centre. And go dancing in the rain if she found an effective treatment.

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