Giving BIRTH made me allergic to WATER
Content Editor / March 29 2019
A young mother from the UK has developed an incredibly rare water allergy after giving birth to her daughter.
Cherelle Farrugia, 26, from Cardiff, Wales, breaks out into painful itchy hives whenever she comes into contact with water.
The areas on her body worst affected are her chest, back and upper arms. Cherelle wasn’t born with the allergy but bizarrely discovered her skin would become red and painful after bathing – something that did not happen before she gave birth to her daughter, Willow.
The unusual condition, called aquagenic urticaria, makes simple day-to-day actions like washing herself and bathing her 18 month-year-old daughter incredibly difficult.
“Physically it’s quite painful and its very itchy, it’s kind of like a prickly feeling and then it’s a full-blown rash, Cherelle told Barcroft TV.
“I’m mostly affected just above my belly button, so my legs are rarely affected, it’s mostly my stomach, shoulders, back and my neck.
“Occasionally I get it on my face if I’m having a particularly nasty reaction.”
The condition made Cherelle feel highly anxious about leaving the house with her baby daughter, for fear it might start raining and an outbreak would occur.
“I think for about two months even if it was just drizzling, I wouldn’t leave the house. I had panic attacks because I was so overwhelmed,” she explained.
Aquagenic urticaria is extremely rare with less than 40 reported cases worldwide. Not much is known about what causes it and there is no cure.
Cherelle tried several different strategies and visited many healthcare professionals before finally getting diagnosed by a specialist.
“If I decide to go swimming with Willow it can potentially be very dangerous, it means I could go into shock,” she says.
“I’ve spoken to a number of doctors and they don’t know what could happen if I go swimming and for me that’s a really scary thing not knowing.
“I usually shower in the morning because I’ve got it done so I can kind of have my breakfast then and distract myself while the reactions are happening.”
Cherelle has a strong support network of family and friends who help with water related activities, which helps her to live as normal a life as possible.
She is using the experience of living with this rare condition and health anxiety to write a book and is training to become a counsellor.
Nicola Conville has worked as a journalist and editor for more than 20 years across a wide range of print and online publications. Her areas of expertise are parenting, health and travel. She has two children; Lucy, age eight, and Nathan, age five.