18-month-old girl is allergic to water

Ivy Angerman, who has aquagenic urticaria, gets allergic reactions such as hives when she bathes, sweats or is caught in the rain.
Ivy Angerman, who has aquagenic urticaria, gets allergic reactions such as hives when she bathes, sweats or is caught in the rain.PHOTO: IVYLYNN/GOFUNDME

WASHINGTON • A one-year-old toddler from the United States has developed a rare allergy to one of the basic components of life: water.

Ivy Angerman from Minnesota develops allergic reactions such as hives and rashes whenever she comes into contact with water, according to media reports.

The 18-month-old girl suffers from a rare condition known as aquagenic urticaria, which affects fewer than 100 people worldwide, reported British newspaper The Independent's online news site Indy100.

Ivy's condition was first noticed by her parents after they discovered that their daughter would develop allergic reactions after her bath time.

The couple initially suspected that their child was allergic to the soap or shampoo used. But even after eliminating the use of shampoos or soaps during Ivy's bath, she would still break out "in the worst blistery rashes".

In an interview with Indy100, Ivy's mother, Mrs Brittany Angerman, said: "We had even tried bathing in different cities with different water systems, with the same reactions. We basically had to eliminate any outside factors until we were down to just water as the cause of her reactions."

Apart from bathing, Ivy also develops allergic reactions if she sweats and is caught in the rain. Her diaper also has to be changed immediately after it gets wet.

Mrs Angerman added that most people are shocked when they learn about Ivy's condition, but understands that it "does sound pretty out there, to be allergic to water".

"It's very hard, as a mother, to see your child in pain. It's something that is always on your mind and no parent wants to see their child hurting," she told Indy100.

The exact cause of the condition is still unknown because of a lack of research and data available.

However, some experts have proposed that the reaction is caused by allergens in the water, or it could be an interaction between water and a substance found in or on the skin.

Doctors have recommended that the family move to a new home with a purified water system and central air-conditioning to reduce the severity of Ivy's allergic reactions. She also has to take medication a few hours before her twice-weekly baths.

Her parents have since appealed to the public on online crowdfunding site GoFundMe for help to finance the move and the child's research and medical expenses.

Since it was set up last month, the campaign has raised more than US$32,000 (S$41,900).

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2018, with the headline '18-month-old girl is allergic to water'. Print Edition | Subscribe