Tessa Hansen-Smith, from California, US, spoke about the condition that causes her rashes when she sweats, cries and showers. The 21-year-old was diagnosed with aquagenic urticaria at the age of just 10 and she has to be shuttled around her campus at college.
She now opened up about her rare condition and said: “It’s a really difficult condition to have as I’m even allergic to my own tears, saliva and sweat. I’m really prone to heat exhaustion and have to avoid physical activity.”
“I even have to be shuttled around my campus at college because otherwise, I show up to my class with a fever, migraine and rashes making it really difficult to concentrate.
“I suffer with a lot of muscle fatigue and nausea too; the sickness is usually caused by me eating something with a lot of water in foods like some fruits and vegetables.
“Even drinking water can cause cuts on my tongue.”
When Tessa was eight years old, her family noticed that something was wrong because of her break out in a rash after having a shower. They thought it might be happening because of a certain kind of soap.
“With this in mind,” says Tess, “We one by one took them out to see which products I didn’t react to.
“To help the rashes I’d take an allergy tablet which got rid of them but aquagenic urticaria gets worse with age so that no longer works for me like it did.”
They realized that it was not a soap allergy, Tess and her mother did some research to know about the outbreaks.
“Having aquagenic urticaria can be a mental game at times – it’s hard to take so many tablets everyday knowing that it’s not actually ever going to stop.”
“At one point I was taking 12 tablets a day, currently I’m taking nine.”
“I’m frequently reminded that there’s no cure to aquagenic urticaria and that I’ll never really be fully better which is definitely a difficult thing to hear sometimes.”
“I have always been very determined to be independent and leave my home town for college.
“I try my best to take things one day at a time because some days are better than others.
“If I’m able to see my friends and loved ones without having to leave early due to feeling sick, or make it to all my classes in one day, I see that as a win in my book.”
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