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A UK-based woman shared what it’s like to shower with a severe allergy to water on TikTok.
Niah Selway told her 78,000 followers she has a condition called aquagenic pruritus, which causes her skin to intensely itch and burn when exposed to water.
“When you’re allergic to water, having a wash is really difficult,” Selway said in a video.
To shower, she said she first checks her temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate. She explained the reason she has to monitor her temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate before and after her shower is to see if they’ve reached dangerous levels. During her demo shower, her temperature jumped from 96.8°F to 105°F in under 20 minutes.
After she checks her vitals, Selway said she uses a dry brush to strip off the layers of dead skin. While it can be painful, she says it’s a worthwhile step in her routine to properly exfoliate her skin.
Within five to 10 minutes of jumping in the shower to wash with sensitive skin products, Selway said she starts experiencing pain and itchiness that typically lasts upwards of an hour.
People with aquagenic pruritus do not exhibit visible symptoms on their skin when they are having flare ups or are in pain, according to the National Center for Advancing Translational Science. Instead, those who experience a flare up can feel the pain from between 10 minutes to two hours.
After the shower, Selway said she moisturizers her skin and has to lay in bed to soothe the pain. In severe cases, Selway said she has to take pain killers to ease the pain.
“I literally just writhe around in my bed until the pain stops, and I start to feel exhausted,” Selway said.
Selway said she uses a mix of antihistamines, painkillers, moisturizing, and treatments provided by doctors to try to ease her symptoms, but there’s no one way to treat aquagenic pruritus.