A teenage girl has shed light on her super rare skin condition that makes her allergic to water, leaving her in agonising pain every time she takes a shower, sweats or even cries.
Sadie Tessmer, 14, was diagnosed with aquagenic urticaria just four months ago.
The allergy, which only affects an estimated 50 to 100 people worldwide, can cause someone's skin to develop red itchy hives after being exposed to water, and could even be life-threatening if the reaction is bad enough.
When Sadie first started passing out and turning red in the shower, she and her mum Amber Sallee assumed that the water was too hot. But after a visit to her dermatologist in May, Sadie was diagnosed with the unusual allergy.
"At times, it feels like someone is pouring gasoline on my body and setting me on fire and it itches," said Sadie.
"I always get a reaction when I shower or wash my hands, or even cry or sweat.
"It will hurt so much that I will start crying and that makes it worse because I’m allergic to my own tears which stresses me out.
"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 terrifying."
Before mid-2021, Sadie never had any problems with water and loved to paddle on the beach or swim. But, all of a sudden, the teen started to notice her skin burning up every time she took a shower.
When Sadie was finally diagnosed, she couldn't believe it, admitting that it 'didn't seem real'.
She said: "I didn’t think you could be allergic to water. If someone told me they were, I would think they were lying. I will take a shower to show myself it’s not real, and it just makes me more upset."
Eventually, Sadie's mum decided to home school her so she could avoid sweating, and being in agonising pain, in PE lessons.
“At school you need to do PE, and I am allergic to my sweat," she said. “I have always enjoyed playing football and loved going swimming, but I haven’t been able to do it since.”
The harsh reaction to her own sweat means that Sadie can't go out in hot or humid weather, leaving her isolated in the summer months.
She said: “It makes me feel super lonely because I feel like I’m the only person who has it. Even going for a walk makes me feel like I’m going to pass out because I become nauseous when I start sweating.
"I keep thinking my life is over. I wanted to be in the military my whole life, and I found out I can’t do that anymore because I can’t exercise, which was devastating."
To make matters worse, Sadie has to force herself not to cry when she is feeling down since it would make her break out in hives.
She's hoping that by speaking out, she can reach out to others who feel as lonely and isolated as she does.
She said: “I know there are other people that have this condition, so I hope they know they are not alone. And I hope we can continue to have more research into it.”
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