Danielle McCraven, 12, from Haughton, Louisiana, breaks out in painful hives whenever she sweats or cries, and her allergy is so severe that having a hot shower or a soak in the bath could prove fatal.
The young girl was diagnosed with aquagenic urticaria—a condition that is thought to affect under 100 people worldwide—less than a year ago. Danielle had been a keen swimmer before her diagnosis.
Danielle began to develop an itchy and painful rash whenever she came into contact with water. She now has to carry an EpiPen in case she goes into anaphylactic shock.
The rare allergy meant she had to give up her favorite hobby and is forced to stay indoors in the summer in case she sweats and sparks a flare-up.
“It’s painful and really hard for her,” Danielle’s mother, Sari, 39, said. “I don’t know what’s going through her head because it’s miserable for her.”
“She used to love swimming and she was in tears last summer when she couldn’t go swimming with her friends,” Sari added.
The mother worries that the rare condition can cause her daughter “to go into anaphylactic shock.”
“[I]t can get into her lungs if she has a bad break out so it is life-threatening,” Sari said. “It scares me when it covers her whole body because it means it’s getting worse.”
“She’s allergic to bottled water, saltwater, tap water but she can ingest it,” she said.
“It’s stressful when she needs to wash her face or have a shower because she doesn’t want to do it, she’s scared.”
Danielle was diagnosed with aquagenic urticaria at the age of 11 and first showed signs of the condition when showering caused her to break out in an itchy rash.
Initially, Sari, who works as a customer service representative, assumed that the heat of the water had caused the hives, but when they became more frequent, the mom and daughter went to see their doctor.
“She was taking a shower over a year ago, and she said she thought she was allergic to water,” Sari, a mom of four, said. “I told her that’s not possible and she must have had the heat up too high.”
“Her feet were all red and itchy and it got worse and worse, but I thought she was scratching or rubbing herself,” Sari added.
“I thought there’s no way a water allergy exists,” she said.
However, when they went swimming one day, Danielle was covered in hives, so Sari took her to a doctor.
“The doctor poured water on her arm and watched it develop,” Sari said. “One doctor refused to believe she was allergic to water and tested her for everything else.
“Apparently, it’s something that develops in puberty but it’s so rare that they don’t know enough about it to treat it,” the mom added.
The 12-year-old takes one dose of antihistamines daily, needs to be supervised in the shower, and carries an EpiPen.
“Danielle loves gymnastics but sweat breaks her out and where we live is very humid so she can’t go outside in the summer,” Sari said.
“She takes strong anti-histamines every day but she still breaks out. Now it’s just hoping that it doesn’t get worse over time because we’re scared that the worst could happen.”
Epoch Times staff contributed to the report.