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What Are the Signs of an Allergic Reaction to Water?

Humid air causes severe itching but no rash for those with aquagenic pruritus.
Redness and itching in the area are common signs of an allergic reaction to water.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 19 July 2014
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Aquagenic pruritus is the scientific term for a water allergy. The signs of this condition develop when an affected person's skin comes into contact with water and typically include itching and burning. In some cases, a person with this condition also experiences tingling sensations in the skin. Signs of the allergy can appear after contact with all types of water, including tap water used for bathing, pool or ocean water, or even rain water and splashes from puddles. Some, though not most, people will develop an itchy, bumpy rash as well.

When a person has an allergic reaction to water, he may experience many of the same symptoms common in those with other types of contact allergies. For example, an individual might develop redness and itching in the area as well as burning and tingling after skin contact with water. Contact allergies often cause rashes as well, but this is usually not the case when it comes to water allergies. Sometimes an itchy, bumpy rash does develop, but this is less common than the other symptoms.

There are certain parts of the body that are more prone to showing the signs of an allergic reaction to water as well. For example, a person may be more likely to develop signs of the allergy on his trunk or back. Likewise, a person's arms and legs may be more prone to showing these symptoms than other parts of the body.

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Sometimes diagnosing an allergic reaction to water can be more challenging than one might think. This is because doctors have to question whether the cause may be something other than the water, such as the soap a person uses in the shower or bath. Likewise, doctors may question whether chemicals, such as chlorine, in the water are at fault, or even the temperature of the water. For example, in some cases, a person may actually have a reaction to the coldness of the water rather than to the water itself.

Treatment for a water allergy can prove challenging since contact with water is a normal, daily part of life for most people. Doctors can prescribe antihistamines and topical creams for preventing and relieving allergy symptoms, and they may also recommend applying protective creams and oils to the skin before bathing. Additionally, a person might consider trying phototherapy, which is a treatment that involves the use of light, for the purpose of desensitizing his skin and reducing his allergic reaction to water.

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