Woman, 23, with allergy to WATER is unable to shower due to agonising pain

A woman with a 1 in 156 million allergy is left unable to shower daily due extreme pain when water touches her skin. 

Rachael Fetter, 23,  was diagnosed with Aquagenic Urticaria – an allergy to water – in July 2019 after she began developing painful hives every time she washed her hands, took a shower or got caught in the rain.

The veterinarian technician, from Rathdrum, Idaho, explained that she even breaks out in bright red rashes whenever she sweats too much, and can only drink half a cup of water (120ml) at a time. 

Rachael Fetter, 23, was diagnosed with Aquagenic Urticaria – an allergy to water – in July 2019 after she began developing painful hives every time she washed her hands, took a shower or got caught in the rain. She is pictured after showering 

The veterinarian technician, from Rathdrum, Idaho, explained that she even breaks out in bright red rashes whenever she sweats too much ashe can drink water, can only drink half a cup (120ml) at a time. Her legs are pictured after a shower

The veterinarian technician, from Rathdrum, Idaho, explained that she even breaks out in bright red rashes whenever she sweats too much ashe can drink water, can only drink half a cup (120ml) at a time. Her legs are pictured after a shower

And due her water allergy – which affects just 50 people on the planet – Rachael can only shower twice a week, because the experience makes her skin break out in agonising hives and causes extreme burning pain, which can last for days.

Rachael said: ‘I first began having bad reactions to water when I was 18. I remember taking a shower, and as I was drying off I noticed a rash.

‘I thought it was just the soap that I was using, so I tried a different brand. But then every time I took a shower, I was getting hives.

‘The pain got worse over time and soon I was ending up in tears each time. I only began seeing doctors about my skin at start of 2019.

Due her water allergy - which affects just 50 people on the planet - Rachael can only shower twice a week, as the experience makes her skin break out in agonising hives and causes extreme burning pain which can last for days

Due her water allergy – which affects just 50 people on the planet – Rachael can only shower twice a week, as the experience makes her skin break out in agonising hives and causes extreme burning pain which can last for days

Rachael explained that after being exposed to water, her skin can break out head to toe in painful red hives - and while the rash goes down in time, the pain can last days

Due to this, she has to plan her showers and can only have two a week at the most - while she can only consume a very small amount of water at a time.

Rachael explained that after being exposed to water, her skin can break out head to toe in painful red hives – and while the rash goes down in time, the pain can last days. Due to this, she has to plan her showers and can only have two a week at the most – while she can only consume a very small amount of water at a time. She is pictured left in the gym and right after showering

Brave Rachael is now sharing her story to help raise awareness about water allergies and to help people who have the condition to feel less alone. She is pictured after showeing

Brave Rachael is now sharing her story to help raise awareness about water allergies and to help people who have the condition to feel less alone. She is pictured after showeing

‘I saw my primary physician, dermatologist, and an allergist. The local doctors did two skin biopsies and thought it was Aquagenic Urticaria, but were not sure and tried to treat the symptoms.

‘I had more testing done at the Mayo clinic, and it was determined that I had Aquagenic Urticaria. By the time it wasn’t a shock because I knew I was reacting to water.

‘I was relieved that I had an answer and to know I was not alone. There are so few people that have the condition that it can be very isolating.’ 

Rachael explained: ''The longer water sits on my skin the worse the burns are. These marks are only visible for a few hours but the burning feeling can last up to days.'

Rachael explained: ”The longer water sits on my skin the worse the burns are. These marks are only visible for a few hours but the burning feeling can last up to days.’

Rachael said: ;'Aquagenic Urticaria has impacted my life. I can't go swimming or get wet in the rain. 'I get frustrated with my body but I know I'm trying my best. She is pictured in pain after the shower

Rachael said: ;’Aquagenic Urticaria has impacted my life. I can’t go swimming or get wet in the rain. ‘I get frustrated with my body but I know I’m trying my best. She is pictured in pain after the shower

What is aquagenic urticaria?

Aquagenic urticaria, is a condition that affects only one in 230 million people worldwide. 

It is one of a number of forms of urticaria – such as aversions to the sun and extreme cold or exercise (which causes sweating, producing water) – that cause the skin to break out in painful hives and welts.

Within minutes of the skin making contact with water, rashes appear which can last for anything from 15 minutes to two hours or more. 

Although the exact triggers remain a mystery, many practitioners in the field believe that the rashes are caused by histamines – or chemicals – released by mast cells in the skin when by our bodies when we have a reaction, in this case when skin makes contact with water.

The release of the histamines then cause the welts and rashes to appear on the skin.

Aquagenic Urticaria is a rare condition that causes a rash to appear after contact with any type of water – including rain, snow, sweat and tears.

Rachael explained that after being exposed to water, her skin can break out head to toe in painful red hives – and while the rash goes down in time, the pain can last days.

Due to this, she has to plan her showers and can only have two a week at the most – while she can only consume a very small amount of water at a time.

Rachael said: ‘I can only drink about 4oz of water at a time. If I have any more that that at once, I’ll throw it up or feel extremely sick to my stomach.

‘I also react to my own sweat. If I go out for a long walk with my dog, I get hives on my arms, legs and hands.

‘The longer water sits on my skin the worse the burns are. These marks are only visible for a few hours but the burning feeling can last up to days.

‘I work as a vet tech and I wash my hands a lot or get wet treating animals.

‘Due to the added exposure a very large rash occurs on my hands which numerous people have noticed and commented about.

‘I have to plan ahead to shower and I need to take my pain medication in advance to give it time to work.

‘I shower twice a week, mainly just to wash my hair. I make it as fast as possible, usually five minutes max.

 ‘It doesn’t matter hot or cold water but most of my showers are with cold water, because hot water makes things worse.

Rachael, pictured with her dog, said: 'I shower twice a week, mainly just to wash my hair. I make it as fast as possible, usually five minutes max.

Rachael, pictured with her dog, said: ‘I shower twice a week, mainly just to wash my hair. I make it as fast as possible, usually five minutes max.

‘I get in and get out, and as soon as water huts my skin it feels like I’m being burnt. When I’m done I have to sit down due to hives on the bottom of my feet.

‘Funnily enough, IV fluids don’t bug me at all. I love going in to get fluids that way because it’s so hard on my own to drink water.’

Brave Rachael is now sharing her story to help raise awareness about water allergies and to help people who have the condition to feel less alone.

She added: ‘Aquagenic Urticaria has impacted my life. I can’t go swimming or get wet in the rain.

‘I get frustrated with my body but I know I’m trying my best.

‘I want people to know water allergy is a real thing and it affects my life on a daily basis.

‘I hope one day there will be a cure. Until then I’ll continue to take medications and stay as dry as possible.’

Rachael, pictured with her dogs, said: 'I want people to know water allergy is a real thing and it affects my life on a daily basis.

Rachael, pictured with her dogs, said: ‘I want people to know water allergy is a real thing and it affects my life on a daily basis.

Rachael added: ''I hope one day there will be a cure. Until then I'll continue to take medications and stay as dry as possible.''

Rachael added: ”I hope one day there will be a cure. Until then I’ll continue to take medications and stay as dry as possible.”

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