A toddler in Minnesota has developed an allergy to water, and it is so severe that even a few seconds in the bath causes hives, rashes, blisters and excruciating pain.
In October, Ivy Angerman was diagnosed with aquagenic urticaria. The rare condition causes hives to develop rapidly whenever her skin comes into contact with water. It has nothing to do with water temperature, pH balance, or any other factors.
Ivy's mother, Brittany Angerman, told reporters from People that when her daughter cries, her face actually swells up from her own tears. Even her sweat can cause the reaction, and she can't be exposed to snow or rain whatsover. Angerman said she's dreading her daughter's exclusion from activities like swimming or running through sprinklers as she grows older.
"It's something we still can't wrap our heads around," Angerman said. "It's just heartbreaking."
The reaction reportedly lasts up to an hour, though a small exposure to water might only cause 15 minutes of pain. The 18-month-old has been prescribed an antihistamine to reduce the length of her reactions. This is reportedly the only treatment available, and even that can't completely stop the condition.
“She used to love the bath and now she’s screaming bloody murder when we have to wash her,” says the 27-year-old mom. “It feels like a third-degree burn. She runs around screaming that she’s hot. It’s so hard to watch as a mother.”
Angerman says that she wishes she could stop bathing her daughter altogether to avoid the pain, which she's starting to think of as torture. They've had to restrict Ivy's play time outside just to cut down on the frequency of baths.
“I’ve tried so many things to make it more comforting for her, but it’s not working,” says Brittany. “And it’s only getting worse.”
Angerman says that her daughter is still a typical "happy-go-lucky kid," despite her condition. When she and her husband, Daniel, first noticed the rashes, they tried every combination of soaps, detergents, and fabrics to quell the pain. They even took Ivy to hotels and friends' houses to see if different bath water would do the trick. Finally, an allergist gave them the diagnosis.
“We love her to death and we’ll do whatever it takes,” says Brittany, “but we’re also very scared for her future.”
While the condition only effects Ivy's outer skin for now, Angerman fears it could start to spread to her mouth and throat as well.
“I wonder if one day her throat will start to swell up when she drinks it,” she says. “We don’t know if she’ll be able to go to day care or what job she’ll be able to have in the future.”
“The entire situation is just mind-blowing,” Brittany continues. “We want people to know this exists and how life-changing it really is.”
Angerman has set up a GoFundMe in hopes of getting a home with central air-conditioning before summer hits, so her daughter will have a safe place where her sweat won't hurt her.