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Woman who is allergic to water says her 'scalp would be bleeding' after showering
Featured Image Credit: Instagram/@Tessalivingwaterless

Woman who is allergic to water says her 'scalp would be bleeding' after showering

Tessa has been diagnosed with a rare condition called Aquagenic Urticaria

A 25-year-old woman who is allergic to water has described how even just taking a shower can leave her with 'huge welts' and a bleeding scalp.

Tessa Hansen-Smith, from Fresno, California, is one of only approximately 100 to 250 people worldwide who has the unusual allergy, which is known as Aquagenic Urticaria.

She wasn't born allergic to water, and as a little girl she swam, took baths and drank water like the majority of other kids out there.

It wasn't until she started developing mysterious symptoms that Tessa's family realised something was wrong.

"I would come out of showers and have huge welts on my skin, and my scalp would be bleeding after showering," she told ABC 30. "So, the first things we kind of did was, 'Okay, let's take away your shampoos, take away your conditioner, take away any soaps you're using.'"

When taking away soaps and lotions didn't help, Tessa was faced with years of testing by specialists. But it was actually her mom, who is a doctor herself, who realised the issues stemmed from water.

The liquid causes Tessa to experience itching, rashes and hives on her skin. Her own tears and sweat affect her, and even drinking water can be painful, leaving Tessa with a burning sensation in her throat and body.

Instead, she mostly drinks milk, in which the water content is buffered by proteins, fats and sugars.

Tessa shares information about her condition online.

Tessa's mom, Karen Hansen-Smith, has admitted it's 'heartbreaking' to know her daughter is 'not living the life she wanted to live', but Tessa has remained positive even when she faced negative reactions to her condition.

"When I did tell people about it in college, I would have people try to purposely splash water on me, or I would have people throw ice cubes at me," she recalled.

Having people who 'believe' her and are 'helpful' makes 'all the difference', Tessa said.

Unfortunately Tessa had to move home from college when the coronavirus pandemic hit, and in order to avoid sweating too much she spends much of her time indoors, working on art and reading.

"In the summertime, when people are going to the beach, people are having pool parties and trying to escape the heat the best they can, those are things I can't participate in and can't enjoy, so it can be really isolating," said Tessa.

Tessa takes medication to alleviate rashes from water.

Things took a turn for the worse for Tessa when she became so dehydrated that she developed ischemic colitis, in which blood flow is blocked to the colon, so she's still recovering with physical therapy.

However, Tessa decided to use the ordeal as an opportunity to share her story with others and help raise awareness for rare and often misunderstood conditions.

She connects with others through her Instagram page, Living Waterless, and provides further information about her condition on a GoFundMe page designed to help her cover her medical bills.

There's no cure for Aquagenic Urticaria, so for now Tessa takes antihistamines to alleviate the rashes, hives and itching from contact with water.

"I hope that I can go back to school again, I hope that I can get a job again, I hope that I can find a sense of normalcy in life again," Tessa said.

In the future, Tessa hopes to pursue a nursing degree.

Topics: US News, Health, Science