World's most unique allergies
Tuesday 29th July
Now that summer is finally here, many of us are suffering with a familiar problem in hay fever. Hay fever is a common pollen allergy which affects one in four people, although the symptoms can be managed with a range of medicines.
While you or someone you know probably suffers from hay fever, there are some allergies which are far more unusual. Here, we look at some of the most unique examples of these allergies in the world.
Aquagenic urticaria is a rare condition that causes itchy and painful hives to break out whenever the sufferer comes into contact with water. These hives occur as a result of the body’s mast cells releasing histamine, which creates the hives. Changing the water temperature has no impact on the allergic reaction and there is no effective treatment, although anti-pruritic lotions or creams can help to soothe the itching.
Although regular exercise is advocated as part of a healthy regime, there are a few people who have good reason not to hit the gym. Exercise-induced anaphylaxis and urticaria is an extremely rare and severe allergic reaction caused by exercise, with symptoms including a breakout of hives, gastrointestinal problems and even anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is also known as anaphylactic shock and is potentially life threatening, including symptoms such as light-headedness, a narrowing of the airways and even collapse. It is no surprise, then, that in the case of anaphylaxis sufferers will be advised to only exercise with a partner, and will often be given an adrenaline shot to be taken in case of emergency.
Believe it or not, there are some who suffer from allergic reactions just from handling loose change. Developing an allergic rash on your hands after handling coins is a sign that you’re allergic to nickel sulphate. Sufferers are advised to avoid contact with shiny objects such as jewellery, metal parts of clothing, hair pins, lighters and even some door handles. Of course, gloves are recommended where money must be handled, and it is advised that sufferers of nickel allergies don’t carry loose change in their pockets.
4. Human touch
Those who suffer from dermographism (meaning “skin writing”) can actually write their own names on their skin as their touch causes a physical allergic reaction. It’s another form of urticaria and is often a life-long condition, although there are ways of minimising it. Relief can be found in the form of antihistamines, which can stop the histamine from causing the swelling.
Called solar urticaria, symptoms include an outbreak of hives when exposed to the sun. As with other forms of urticaria, the body’s mast cells release histamine, which causes the reaction. It’s important that sufferers don’t expose large areas of their bodies to sunlight, as this can cause nausea and light-headedness. Anti-histamines and sun screen also help to keep reactions to a minimum, and although there is no permanent cure, in some rare cases the condition can go away on its own.
This allergy should not be confused with heat urticaria – another rare allergic reaction which occurs when the sufferer is exposed to temperatures greater than 109.4°F.
Coping with allergies
Whether you suffer from a rare allergy such as those mentioned above or a more common allergy such as hay fever, it is vital that you seek medical advice and treatment to manage the condition. Allergies can range in severity from the mild to the life-threatening, so you must always have the source of your allergic reactions investigated and diagnosed.