Alexandra Allen of Mapleton Utah, has a very strange allergy. She is allergic to water, one of the most basic elements found on earth. At first doctors tested her thoroughly to be sure she wasn’t allergic to a compound found within water. As it turns out, she is allergic to H2O the compound that makes up water. The result is that she is allergic to all forms of water, including sweat, all which cause her to break out into an itchy swollen rash.

Allen first discovered her allergy at the age of 12, when after spending time in the family’s hot tub she broke out into itchy hives. The condition is called aquatic urticaria and 1 of only about 35 people has it. In an interview with Deseret News, she describes her symptoms as though “your skin has been sandpapered down until there’s only one layer left and it itches, but you can’t itch it or it will break and burn and bleed,.”. Allen has found that symptomatic treatment is best for her, in addition to eating a balanced diet and exercising moderately to control perspiration, oil, and odour. She takes showers about 3 times a week, but keeps the temperature cold to avoid a reaction.

Unfortunately, Allen’s disease is degenerative, meaning it will worsen with time and someday drinking water could cause her throat to close. She doesn’t let her allergy stop her however, she is a top student, writer, athlete, and leader, eloquently describing her experiences on her blog.