Living with an allergy can obviously be a challenge, and it’s easy to feel at times as though it’s something of an ongoing battle. However, it’s often not a battle which needs to be fought alone.
Roughly 30% of the world’s population are thought to have an allergy of some description. What’s more, they can affect anyone and are no respecter of status or situation. Even some of the world’s most foremost celebrities have been forthcoming about their struggles with allergies, which proves that even the best treatment money can buy isn’t entirely effective all of the time.
The most common among these are rhinitic allergies, which affect the nasal passages and airways and can be triggered by pollen and animal dander; however, allergies can take on many forms, and be triggered by a variety of substances.
Because allergies are so common though, the term ‘allergy’ is often used interchangeably to describe conditions which are quite different. Coeliac disease for instance, which is a different type of autoimmune condition, is frequently incorrectly referred to as an allergy. Similarly, food intolerances and IBS aren’t strictly allergies, but they are by some categorised as such because they share characteristics that are somewhat similar.
For some, the term ‘allergy’ has even become one used to describe dislike of a certain food or substance; and sadly, repeated interchangeability on such a scale can breed scepticism. Consequently, when someone tells someone else that they have an allergy, it’s not uncommon for this someone else to have their doubts. This can undoubtedly be a point of frustration for those with genuine allergies then, and even more so for those whose allergies also happen to be incredibly rare.
With this in mind, here are five rare allergies that, although they may sound unlikely, are nonetheless real and deserve to be taken seriously:
1. Allergic to Water
The given name for a water allergy is aquagenic urticaria. Symptoms of the condition, such as hives or angioedema (sudden swelling of the soft tissue), are triggered by physical contact with water. As you can imagine, this can make bathing or going out in the rain quite difficult.
Very little is understood about aquagenic urticaria, making it a hard condition to accurately diagnose, but histamine activity is thought to play a significant role. Those with the condition may need to identify specific triggers (be it salt water or water treated with chlorine) and make lifestyle adjustments with the help of an allergy specialist.
2. Allergic to Sunlight
Also known as polymorphic light eruption, someone with an allergy to sunlight may experience skin blemishes upon contact with UV rays. It’s not as uncommon as you might think, with around one in 10 thought to be affected at some point during the year (most commonly, the early summer months).
A fewer number of people will however experience symptoms on a continual basis, and these may be more severe. Guidance from a dermatologist may be able to help limit symptoms, but where this does not succeed, advice from an allergy specialist is again recommended.
3. Allergic to Vibrations
The medical term for this type of allergy is much simpler: vibratory urticaria (urticaria meaning an irritable rash or hives).
This means that persons with the condition may break out in hives after undertaking certain activities, such as using a drill, exercising or clapping. Flushing and headaches have also been cited as symptoms of this type of allergic reaction, which is thought to be linked to a faulty gene.
These symptoms may not last for very long, but can still be frustrating and prove an obstacle to everyday life. Avoidance of trigger activities has been identified as the best course of action; but those with the condition may need help from their physician in determining a workout routine which doesn’t exacerbate it.
4. Allergic to Deodorant
It’s actually quite common to be allergic to cosmetics. Soaps and similar products are thought to trigger contact dermatitis in up to a quarter of us.
Allergy to deodorant is a much more particular condition however, and is not as common. Once more, this can produce hives and similar skin symptoms on the site of application, which is typically the underarms.
Known also as axillary dermatitis, this type of allergy can be frustrating to deal with, and not being able to use deodorant can create feelings of self-consciousness.
It may take time to find the right type of deodorant product which doesn’t contain the offending ingredient; but a consultant allergist will be able to provide useful guidance.