Aquagenic urticaria, a rare skin disease causes sufferers to break out in hives after their skin comes into contact with water.
Sadie Tessmer, 14, from Missouri, is one of only 100 people in the world to have water allergy aquagenic urticaria.
The teenager who lives in Buffalo, Missouri was diagnosed with this agonizing skin disease four months ago.
Sadie reportedly began experiencing aquagenic urticaria late last year when her skin turned red and became painful after showers.
Though she is still able to drink water, she uses a straw because if the water touches her lips her skin breaks out into a rash, the Daily Mail informs.
Since the diagnosis in May, Sadie has dropped playing soccer and has even left school due to the physical education classes — exercise makes her sweat, triggering symptoms.
Until late 2019, Sadie had no issues with water and loved nothing more than playing soccer, swimming, or going to the beach. However, all of that has changed now. This summer, she has been forced to stay home, to avoid the outdoors and beach in case she sweats due to the hot and humid climate.
When Sadie’s skin first started turning red after showers, her mother Amber Sallee, 37, didn’t think much of it and thought it was because the water is too hot.
She even reportedly joked that Sadie ‘may be allergic’ to getting washes.
However, fearing the symptoms would get worse, Amber took her daughter to see a dermatologist in May 2022.
Explaining how it feels to touch water now, Sadie is reported to have said, “At times, it feels like someone is pouring gasoline on my body and setting me on fire and it itches.
“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.”
The cause for aquagenic urticaria is unclear but experts believe it may be due to a substance in the water that triggers an immune response. Also, most cases supposedly occur randomly with no family history of the disorder.
Sadie has three siblings — Bradley, 17, and sisters Kasie, 15, and Leslie, 12 — none of whom had any problems with water previously.
Fewer than 100 cases of the allergy have ever been recorded, or less than one-in-230 million are thought to be affected worldwide. Also, most of these cases appear around the teenage years, the Daily Mail informs.
Aquagenic urticaria has no cure, and experts warn that flare-ups could be fatal if they become too severe.
Sallee, who is a nursing assistant, is reported to have said she is heartbroken for her daughter – she spends every day trying to find a cure for her condition in the hope Sadie can one day lead a normal life.
She is quoted as saying, “It’s really heart-breaking as a parent knowing there is nothing you can do.
“She comes out of the shower bright red and crying, and I have to try not to cry or she’ll cry even more.
“We live in a very hot and humid area, and there are heatwaves, so it gets pretty intense and I’m so worried.”
She adds, “When winter comes, I love dragging my children out into the snow but we can’t even do that.
“I am just hoping more research is done, just to make sure she can live a full life, doing all the things she wants to.”
Before the diagnosis, Sadie wanted to join the military. She is reported to have said, “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.”
Sadie has also been withdrawn from school because they have to do PE lessons, which makes her sweat.
She is being kept in with the air-conditioning as the warm, moist air in Missouri could cause her body to sweat, leading to a flare-up.
After not being able to go outside during the summer due to the hot and humid weather and speaking about her rare condition, Sadie has reportedly said, “It makes me feel super lonely because I feel like I am the only person who has it.”
She adds, “Even going for a walk makes me feel like I’m going to pass out because I become nauseous when I start sweating, so it makes me worry about what the future will hold for me.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, due to the condition’s rarity, little is known about how best to treat it.
Therapies typically include antihistamines, UV light treatments, steroids, creams that act as a barrier, and bathing in sodium bicarbonate.
Apparently, women are more likely to experience symptoms, and these typically start around puberty.
The hives are usually red and 1-3mm across and usually appear on the neck, chest, and arms.
Some people may also experience itching. But once the water is removed, the rash usually fades within 30-to-60 minutes.
Though it is not clear whether the condition will clear later in life, for now, Sadie has been prescribed antihistamines and shots to help reduce the flare-ups caused by water.