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Teen girl, 14, develops allergy to WATER that makes getting wet feel like 'being set on fire'

Sadie Tessmer, 14, of Buffalo, Missouri, gets painful red hives every time she touches the water.  Above her are her legs in the bathtub when she has an allergic reaction to the water.

A teenage girl who is allergic to water says she can’t get wet without getting painful red hives on her skin that feel as if they were “doused in gasoline and set on fire.”

Sadie Tessmer, 14, of Buffalo, Missouri, began experiencing aquagenic urticaria late last year when her skin turned red and sore after showers.

He had always loved going swimming, rowing on the beach, and even sweating it out during soccer practice. But the allergy has put a stop to these activities, and Sadie says she now can’t even cry without breaking out in red, angry rashes.

Since the diagnosis in May, the teenager has given up soccer and even dropped out of school, which insisted on physical education classes, because exercise makes her sweat and triggers symptoms. This summer she has been forced to stay indoors and avoid the outdoors and the beach in case the hot and humid weather makes her sweat.

Sadie can still drink water, but she has to do it through a straw because if it touches her lips, like when she drinks from a bottle, she gets a rash on her skin.

An allergy to water is extremely rare, with only about 100 people, or less than one in 230 million, thought to be affected worldwide. There is no cure and experts warn that outbreaks can be fatal if they get too severe.

Sadie Tessmer, 14, of Buffalo, Missouri, gets painful red hives every time she touches the water.  Above her are her legs in the bathtub when she has an allergic reaction to the water.

Sadie Tessmer, 14, of Buffalo, Missouri, gets painful red hives every time she touches the water. Above her are her legs in the bathtub when she has an allergic reaction to the water.

Sadie said she was very surprised to receive the diagnosis and previously enjoyed swimming and playing soccer without allergic reactions.

Sadie said she was very surprised to receive the diagnosis and previously enjoyed swimming and playing soccer without allergic reactions.

Sadie previously had no problem with the water and loved nothing more than swimming, playing soccer or going to the beach until the end of 2019.

Describing how it feels when she touches the water now, Sadie said: “Sometimes it feels like someone is pouring gasoline on my body and it sets me on fire and it stings me.”

“I always have a reaction when I take a shower or wash my hands, or even when I cry or sweat.

“It will hurt so much that I will start crying and that will make things worse because I am allergic to my own tears, which stresses me out.”

WHAT IS AQUAGENIC URTICARIA?

Aquagenic urticaria causes patients to break out in hives after their skin comes into contact with water.

There are between 50 and 100 known patients worldwide.

Women are more likely to experience symptoms, which usually begin around puberty.

The welts are usually red and 1 to 3 mm wide. They usually appear on the neck, chest and arms.

Some may also experience itchiness.

Once the water is removed, the rash usually goes away within 30 to 60 minutes.

The cause of aquagenic urticaria is not clear, but it may be due to a substance in the water that triggers an immune response.

Most cases occur randomly with no family history of the disorder.

Due to the rarity of the condition, little is known about the best way to treat it.

Therapies typically include antihistamines, ultraviolet light treatments, steroids, barrier creams, and baking soda baths.

Source: National Institutes of Health

“I try to avoid getting water on my face or neck because I don’t want to go into anaphylactic shock. I have EpiPens but it’s scary.’

When Sadie’s skin began to turn red after showers, her mother thought it was because the water was too hot and even joked that she “could be allergic” to the washes.

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The 14-year-old has three brothers, Bradley, 17, and sisters Kasie, 15, and Leslie, 12, none of whom had previously had water problems.

Amber Sallee, 37, took her daughter to see a dermatologist in May 2022 fearing her symptoms would worsen.

At the appointment, doctors used a water challenge test to diagnose the rare condition. This involves applying a cloth moistened with room temperature water to the skin for 20 minutes to see if the patient develops hives.

Sadie’s skin suddenly reacted with hives in just 30 seconds.

When diagnosed, Sadie said: “It just didn’t seem real, I didn’t think you could be allergic to water.” If someone told me they are, I’d think they were lying. I’d take a shower to prove to myself that it’s not real, and that makes me even angrier.

She has now been prescribed antihistamines and injections to help reduce the flare-ups caused by the water, but it is unclear if the condition will go away later in life.

Her mother has also taken her out of school so she doesn’t have to do physical education, which makes her sweat.

They keep her air-conditioned because of concerns that the hot, humid air in Missouri could make her body sweat, causing an outbreak.

Sadie says she feels “incredibly isolated” after not being able to go outside during the summer due to the hot, humid weather that causes sweat.

She has also been withdrawn from school because they have to do physical education classes, which makes her sweat.

“It makes me feel super lonely because I feel like I’m the only person who has it,” Sadie said.

Fewer than 100 cases of allergy have been recorded, and most appeared around adolescence, interrupting a crucial period of social development.

Its cause is unknown, but it is thought that the condition may be due to a substance in the water that triggers an immune response. Most cases occur randomly with no family history of the disorder.

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Due to the rarity of the condition, little is known about the best way to treat it. Therapies typically include antihistamines, ultraviolet light treatments, steroids and barrier creams, and baking soda baths.

Shown above are welts that appeared on her hand due to allergy to water.  She now carries two EpiPens with her to use if she has an outbreak.

Shown above are welts that appeared on her hand due to allergy to water. She now carries two EpiPens with her to use if she has an outbreak.

His arm is shown above in the bathroom after being in contact with the water.  has turned red

His arm is shown above in the bathroom after being in contact with the water. has turned red

“Even going for a walk makes me feel like I’m going to pass out because I get nauseous when I start sweating, so I’m worried about what the future holds,” Sadie described.

I still think my life is over. I wanted to be in the military all my life, and I found out I can’t do that anymore because I can’t exercise, which was devastating.’

Sadie said her summer was “incredibly lonely” because she couldn’t go to the beach with her friends, fearing the hot weather would make her sweat.

Sallee, a nursing assistant, says she is heartbroken for her daughter and spends every day trying to find a cure for her condition in the hope that one day Sadie can lead a normal life.

She said: ‘It’s really heartbreaking as a parent to know there’s nothing you can do.

‘She comes out of the shower red and crying, and I have to try not to cry or she’ll cry even more.

“We live in a very hot and humid area, and there are heat waves, so it gets pretty intense and I’m very worried.”

She added: ‘When winter comes I love dragging my kids into the snow but we can’t even do that.

“I just hope that more research is done, just to make sure that he can live a full life, doing all the things he wants to.”

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