A British woman with an extremely rare allergy to water has revealed the heartbreaking struggle of her day-to-day life.
Niah Selway from Sussex in England has such severe reactions that a single drop of water can cause an intense burning sensation across her body that lasts for hours.
The 21-year-old was diagnosed with aquagenic pruritus – a condition in which contact with water of any temperature causes intense itching, without any visible skin changes, according to Rare Diseases.
“I’m suffering in a really severe way, and no medication or treatment has had any substantial effect,” Niah said.
Even though Niah’s organs aren’t affected and she can still drink water, everything from her own tears to sweat can trigger an allergic reaction on her skin.
“It doesn’t matter where the water touches me. If a drop touches my arm the pain will spread to my back and torso, sometimes to my whole body.
“When I have a bath my whole body burns for hours on end.
“Over time I worked out a routine. Either way it’s painful but I’ve found ways to make it a little less traumatic.
“For instance, I don’t wash my hair in the bath anymore. I do it separately to feel less pain.
“There are so many things people don’t think about, such as sweat, urine and tears.
“Sometimes I’ll have a reaction on my body. I’ll start crying because of it and have one on my face too.
“It’s basically a disability because of the things I can no longer do.
“In the morning I get to the toilet and I’ll have an allergic reaction to the first thing I do.
“I also can’t do much exercise apart from yoga and walking because I can’t sweat, and on hot days I’ll have to be stuck in front of the fan.
“My day is working around my pain,” she said.
The young woman’s symptoms are so intense she’ll often fall asleep from exhaustion after a reaction.
Despite consulting numerous specialists for nearly four years, they’re yet to find the cause.
Niah, who experienced her first reactions at the age of five, said her condition worsened through puberty.
“Initially it would happen about every 10 showers.
“The doctors weren’t showing any concern for it, so I thought maybe I’m just not good at dealing with pain.
“Then in my teens it became every single shower or bath, and it got to the point where I wasn’t able to ignore it,” Niah said.
In 2018, Niah, who started a YouTube channel, came to the realisation that her illness wouldn’t allow her to lead a normal life.
She credits her strength to her parents, Bob and Antonia, and boyfriend Mark.
“I stopped focusing on what’s going to happen and try to make now as positive as it can be,” Niah said.
“My family have been amazing, even in little things, like doing the dishes.
“They just take all water-related responsibilities away from me, and they have adapted their lives around mine.
“I always worried when my condition got bad that my friends would leave me because I couldn’t do stuff with them, like going out and clubbing.
“But they’re amazing. They’re really understanding and make any effort to try and see me.”
Source: Magazine Features