A rare allergy has left a 26-year-old British woman too afraid to leave her house in case it rains.
Katie Dell is one of about 35 people in the world diagnosed with aquagenic urticaria – an allergy to water that prevents her from swimming or crying because it causes a painful rash.
“The condition has, and will continue, to get progressively worse,” Mrs Dell told the Daily Mail.
“It started with an itchy neck. Now I have hives, a rash and painful, itching skin which can reduce me to tears, but I refuse to cry – well I try, as that affects me as well, leaving me with a red itchy face.
“I do get quite depressed and I’m hooked on looking at the weather if I dare leave the house.
“I usually end up cancelling appointments because of the rain and I find it hard to have a social life.”
The allergy even forced Mrs Dell to leave her job as a dance teacher because sweat also caused an allergic reaction.
She said she started experiencing symptoms after having a tonsillectomy when she was 16, but she was only diagnosed with the water allergy – which has no cure – two years ago.
“After the operation I had penicillin that I later discovered I was allergic to. Doctors think this may have altered the histamine levels in my body,” she told the Mail.
“By the time I reached 20, it was at the point I wanted to dig my nails into my skin. but doctors still looked at me like I was telling fibs and people would tell me it was all in my head, even though I was in agony.
“I felt like I was going mad.”
Mrs Dell’s husband, Andy, helps her wash because she is only able to spend a few minutes in the shower.
“I have to be really quick so Andy washes my hair and I wash my body. After, I can’t go anywhere for about two hours because it’s just too painful,” she said.
“Andy is amazing – we have been together 11 years and he’s been fantastic about my condition.
“He does everything from putting the wet washing out on the line, to washing up, to doing the grocery shopping when it’s raining. I can’t thank him enough.”