What are some unusual types of allergies
Imagine being allergic to a substance that makes up about 70 percent of the ground and almost as much of our bodies. But for some, a rare allergy to water is harsh reality.
Michaela Dutton, 21, has aquagenic urticaria, which causes her to get hives when her skin comes in contact with water. While physical urticarias are not unusual — people can develop hives within minutes in response to ordinary stimuli including heat, freezing and pressure — sensitivity to water is far less common.
Dutton said she broke out in a red rash and white blisters after she took a bath about a week after her son was born three years ago.
Although she ignored the reactions at first, her symptoms worsened and she went to see a doctor and a dermatologist who told her she had a water allergy.
«It’s horrible,» Dutton said. «I couldn’t believe it at first,» Dutton said.
«Water induced urticaria is extremely unusual — there are not numerous cases ever reported,» said Dr. Thomas Casale, chief of allergy and immunology at Creighton University and executive vice president of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
«The mechanism has not really been defined.»
It is certain, however, that people with aquagenic urticaria produce histamine from mast cells in the skin which causes redness, rashes and hives if they touch water. Dutton’s sensitivity is such that she can only bathe for about 10 seconds each week and cannot drink water, juice, tea or coffee, opting for diet cola instead. She is also restricted from eating certain fruits and vegetables.
«It’s not a problem with water in the body.
It’s when [water] is applied on top of the body,» Casale said, citing additives as a possible cause for the allergic reaction seen on the skin.
Dutton, who lives in Walsall in the UK, also must be careful when holding her 3-year-old son. Her allergy was triggered after his birth and even his tears can cause hives.
«He doesn’t really understand,» Dutton said. «If he falls asleep I own to watch he doesn’t dribble on me.»
Physical urticarias tend to happen in individuals starting in their 20s and 30s but it is impossible to predict how endless the condition will final.
«Some of these can be time limited but some can final for fairly a few years,» Casale said.
Most urticarias are treated with antihistamines but Casale said that because they are so rare, there own been no major breakthroughs in treatments.
Hot and Cold
About one in five people will develop hives at some point in their lives, but a much smaller number will get physical urticarias (urticaria is another expression for hives) when they contact or experience some extremely ordinary things.
«If you put an ice cube on somebody that has freezing urticaria, they’re going to own a large welt correct where the ice cube was,» said Casale. And it’s not just the freezing. «It could be heat, could be sunlight. It could be vibration. It could be pressure.»
In fact, some cases of heat-induced hives might be confused with exercise-induced anaphylaxis because exercise can lift body temperature.
Casale found the two could be distinguished for diagnosis by either heating the patient using a warming blanket or placing the patient’s hand or leg in boiling water. Only those with heat urticaria will develop hives.
An even smaller number of people with the condition may be diagnosed with aquagenic urticaria, meaning they are allergic to water.
«I actually saw a patient probably six or seven years ago. We put water on her and, boy, she just broke out in hives where the water hit her,» said Casale, although he thought the reaction might own been provoked more so by the temperature of the water than the water itself.
There’s no treatment for physical urticaria and «we still don’t own a really excellent clue as to how [the hives] come about,» said Casale.
«These syndromes aren’t extremely common and they’re extremely hard to study.»
Black Henna Tattoos
For thousands of years, people in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia own decorated their bodies with henna, but in recent decades, adulterations in the dye used for these temporary tattoos own resulted in painful allergic reactions.
Henna is a normally reddish-brown or greenish-brown vegetable coloring derived from lawsone, an ingredient found in the leaves of the henna shrub. Normal henna rarely causes allergic contact dermatitis, but darker henna containing an added chemical also found in hair dye called p-phenylenediamine, or PPD, can instigate severe skin problems and additional allergies.
In some cases, the tattooed skin of those who are allergic to PPD will swell and blister, with the contours of the bumpy skin conforming to the shape of the original tattoo.
«When they add the black hair dye at significant concentrations … we’re seeing people with blistering and scarring to it,» said Jacob.
It’s not unusual for people who react to black henna to also react to hair dye, sometimes as a result of the black henna encounter.
While PPD in little amounts is still allowed in hair dyes, it has been banned from skin products in the United States since 1938.
Still, henna artists hoping to capitalize on the popularity of the black coloring can stir the dangerous paste on their own.
«When you see somebody with a stand that says ‘henna,’ enquire them what color the stain is when the paste comes off the skin,» explained Catherine Cartwright-Jones, a retired henna artist and webmaster for the Henna Sheet. If the stain on your skin is black, «you’ve got a problem.»
Chairs, Flutes and Other Items With Nickel
The unexpected allergic reactions to nickel don’t stop at cell phones.
«We’re starting to see people who own rashes in other places because of the unexpected content of nickel in those items,» said Dr. Sharon Jacob, assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of California at San Diego.
Jacob notes she’s cared for children who’ve developed rashes on the back of their legs due to contact with nickel-plated studs on the seats of their classroom chairs.
«You can get blisters, you can get scarring,» said Jacob. «We’re seeing children as young as 4, and they’re becoming scarred from this.»
Other patients own more challenging cases to solve. Jacob once treated a girl who developed severe lip dermatitis after playing a flute containing the metal.
One problem with diagnosing the allergy is the rash could come a week after contact with nickel, so not everyone associates the symptoms with the potentially problematic object, said Jacob.
The number of allergy patients testing positive for a nickel reaction is on the rise in the United States. Numerous clinicians own attributed the increase, especially in men, to a growing number of ear and other piercings.
About 19 percent of patients with allergic dermatitis are sensitized to nickel, reported the North American Contact Dermatitis Group in data from 2003-2004. The number of such patients was much smaller in 1985-1990 — about 11 percent.
How does one become sensitized to nickel? As Jacob explains it, for some people the intimate contact between the skin and the nickel used in earrings and ear posts can do the trick.
«In general, the first time you’re in contact with nickel, you don’t get a rash,» said Jacob.
But your immune system remembers the metal and eventually, after more exposure, you reach an «elicitation threshold» when «your skin is primed to react.»
Jacob says she wants the American Academy of Dermatology to assist shove for regulations to limit the quantity of nickel in products with prolonged skin contact, just as was done in Europe in the early ’90s.
Normally we’re beautiful careful about the kinds of things we let touch our faces, but how often has that concern come to mind when that thing is your cell phone?
In recent years, dermatologists own begun to see an increasing number of contact dermatitis patients who are allergic to their cell phones, or more specifically the nickel in their cell phones.
«Some people are extremely nickel-sensitive,» said Dr. Lionel Bercovitch, a professor of dermatology at Brown Medical School.
Nickel is a metal that’s used in a wide variety of products, including jewelry, belt buckles and watch bands. It’s the most common cause of contact dermatitis in the developed world.
The symptoms of a nickel reaction range from redness to a more obvious rash, even blisters.
Bercovitch suspects some cases involving cell phones are not being reported because the symptoms are being confused with facial eczema.
«My guess is that it’s probably more common than we ponder, but it’s just not widely recognized,» he said.
Not every cell phones contain nickel. In an attempt to get an thought of how numerous phones might own the metal, Bercovitch tested 22 models and published the results in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in January 2008.
Ten devices were positive for the metal. In some, the nickel showed up around the menu buttons. In others, it appeared near the decorative logos, around the edge of the screen or on a part of the handset where paint was chipped.
See Video That Shows You How to Test Your Cell Phone for Nickel
«I ponder you need the perfect storm of somebody who’s allergic to nickel in the first put, and somebody who uses the cell phone a lot, and a cell phone that has an exposed nickel area,» said Bercovitch.
Allergic to Dad?
When we ponder of food allergies, we typically envision a reaction that results after the allergic person puts the problematic food in his or her mouth. But that’s not always how it goes.
Dr. Clifford Bassett, an allergy specialist at the Endless Island College Hospital and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, notes that 40 percent of food allergy reactions come not from eating a food trigger but from touching or inhaling it.
Such was the case with one of Bassett’s patients, a young girl who developed hives after she hugged and kissed her dad when he returned home from work.
«My occupation is to be sort of an investigative reporter,» explained Bassett. «One of the things that we glance at is contacts, things we put on the body.»
In this case, it wasn’t even something the daughter had put on herself.
It turned out that the kid was allergic to the nut-derived oil in her father’s shaving cream, said Bassett.
«That was an episode of a food allergen present in a cosmetic, basically,» said Bassett, who added that the problem went away after dad switched to another type of shaving cream.