Toddler Is So Allergic to Water That Even Crying Causes Swelling
by Angelica Lai
Photograph by Twenty20
Bath time is incredibly difficult in the Angerman family—but not for the usual reasons. It's not because a disgruntled toddler hates getting water in his eyes or having her hair washed. For 18-month-old Ivy Angerman, bath time is a battle to limit the painful hives and blisters that break out all over her body. All it takes is just 15 seconds in the water for her symptoms to appear, regardless of the water's temperature.
The Minnesota toddler is so allergic to water that even tears or sweat can cause reactions.
Her parents, Brittany and Daniel, noticed she was breaking out in rashes just six months ago. Ivy was then diagnosed with aquagenic urticaria, a rare allergy to water. Fewer than 100 cases have ever been reported in medical literature and fewer than 50 people worldwide are thought to have it. Ivy may be the youngest person to suffer from the condition, as symptoms typically develop during puberty
"She used to love the bath and now she’s screaming bloody murder when we have to wash her," her 27-year-old mom told People. "It feels like a third-degree burn. She runs around screaming that she’s hot. It’s so hard to watch as a mother."
Photograph by Brittany Angerman
There's no cure for the condition and it's often misdiagnosed. Doctors don't know much about the causes. For now, Ivy is taking antihistamines to lessen reaction times, which can last between 15 minutes to an hour after exposure, but her parents say she's even starting to become immune to that treatment.
According to the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center, researchers think another substance that's dissolved in the water could be triggering an immune response, or that a substance found in the skin of people with the condition generates a toxic material when it interacts with water.
The first documented case was in 1963 when a 15-year-old girl broke out in red lesions after waterskiing. In 2015, then-18-year-old Alexandra Allen told the Cut that when she was 12, she woke up in hives in the middle of the night after swimming in a pool.
"I do a lot of weird things to stay clean. I cut out meat and dairy so I can get away without showering for longer," Allen said. "I take one cold two-minute shower each week. That’s it. I move as quickly as I can and then get out of there."
Benjamin Johnson, a 9-year-old from Canada, also gets an incredibly itchy, burning sensation and bright red welts on the skin when he sweats or gets caught in the rain. He started showing symptoms last summer, when he came home with hives after running through the sprinklers.
"I did what I think every parent would do. I assumed it was shampoo or body wash or laundry detergent, so I went through a year of eliminating different things in the house," his mom, Krystal Johnson, told CBC Radio. "Then, just last summer, it really started to evolve into a much worse rash. It became pretty clear, pretty quickly what was going on."
Like Benjamin, Ivy's family has tried ridding bath time of all shampoos and soaps to no avail. For now, their only hope of living with the condition is to bathe in purified water and live in a home with central air conditioning to avoid overheating and sweating.
Photograph by Brittany Angerman
Her parents have started a GoFundMe with a goal of $50,000, hoping to raise enough money to move out of their home built in 1901 to a more accommodating space.
"Is she ever going to be able to go to daycare? Is she ever going to be able to go to public school? Is she able to ever go in the ocean? I don't know," her mom told Fox 9.