How to manage aquagenic pruritus

Written by adrienne warber
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Does water make you itch? If so, you may be allergic to water. The condition, aquagenic pruritus, causes a severe itching sensation immediately after water of any temperature touches the skin. Humid weather, rain and perspiration can also provoke the allergy. The condition affects all genders and ages. Painful itching that last for hours after water contact is generally the only symptom of the allergy. However, a rare form of the allergy, aquagenic urticaria, produces hives during a reaction. Aquagenic pruritus may make daily hygiene a challenge, but the right medication and clothing choices can minimise allergic reactions.

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Things you need

  • Antihistamine
  • Baby oil
  • Capsaicin cream
  • Cotton clothes and bed sheets

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  1. 1

    Ask your doctor for recommendations on how to treat your aquagenic pruritus. A doctor’s assessment is important, because the allergy is sometimes a sign of the serious blood disorders Polycythemia or Polycythemia Vera. The doctor will examine you and prescribe medication and a care plan designed for your specific needs.

  2. 2

    Request a prescription-strength antihistamine. The antihistamine should prevent or minimise aquagenic pruritus symptoms.

  3. 3

    Protect your skin with baby oil before your shower. The baby oil provides a protective coating on your skin and lessens the allergic reaction to the water. Rub baby oil into your skin after the shower to calm itching.

  4. 4

    Apply capsaicin cream to itchy areas during an allergic reaction. Capsaicin cream contains the active ingredient found in chilli peppers and is commonly used to relieve severe itching and pain. You can purchase capsaicin cream at chemists, health food stores and online (see Resources below).

  5. 5

    Dry yourself completely with 100 per cent cotton towel after a shower or bath. Try to dry yourself quickly so that water does not sit on your skin long and cause irritation.

  6. 6

    Wear 100 per cent cotton clothes and use cotton bed sheets. Cotton is a breathable fabric that can minimise itchy symptoms and prevent outbreaks caused by perspiration.

  7. 7

    Receive ultraviolet-B phototherapy at a hospital. Filtered ultraviolet-B phototherapy treatments can help a aquagenic pruritus patient build a resistance to allergic reactions. Ask your doctor if this type of phototherapy could improve your condition.

  8. 8

    Use tanning beds with caution. Tanning can also help prevent allergic reactions to water. Protect your skin with suntan lotion, wear protective goggles and follow tanning bed instructions. Avoid frequent tanning sessions because tanning beds pose a skin cancer risk due to UV spectrum exposure.

Tips and warnings

  • If you desire a hot shower, turn on the hot water during the last 5 minutes of the shower to minimise skin irritation.
  • Apply a heating pad to your skin immediately after the shower to relieve itching. Only use heat if you find that it soothes the allergic reaction. Heat may increase symptoms in some people.
  • Try a lanolin-free aqueous cream to soothe irritated skin after a shower or bath. You can buy aqueous cream online.

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