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Allergy to tap water: causes and symptoms

Aquagenic Urticaria

If contact with water results in itching and burning, this may be an allergy to it, or to what is contained in it.

This condition is sometimes referred to as aquagenic urticaria . This is a rather rare disease in which any form and variant of water causes a reaction: snow, tears, rain, sweat, sea, tap or even distilled water … However, today no more than a hundred cases of aquagenic urticaria have been recorded in the world.

Studies show that aquagenic urticaria is more common in women than men. And in most cases, this problem is diagnosed during puberty.

According to one theory, skin rashes after contact with water may be associated with the release of histamine.

And more often there are reactions to certain components contained in water or used for its purification and disinfection before being supplied to the water supply network.


If not properly controlled, tap water can contain pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. These are toxic and extremely unhealthy substances that can cause contact dermatitis, scalp conditions, and eczema.

In addition, some researchers point to a link between pesticides and the rise in food allergies.

For example, researchers at the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) note that chemicals known as dichlorophenols , which are also used to make pesticides, can be found in water and in processed fruits and vegetables.

While their study could not prove causation, it does suggest that high levels of dichlorophenol -containing pesticides may impair food tolerance in some people, causing food allergies.

The study, which involved more than 2,200 people aged 6 years and older and the results of which were published in the journal Annals of Allergy , Asthma and Immunology ”, it was found that individuals with allergies to one or more foods had higher levels of dichlorophenols in the urine compared to people without such allergies.

However, even if the water does not contain foreign components, it can also cause unwanted reactions. For example, water can be hard. This means that it contains a lot of calcium and magnesium ions, and may also contain heavy metals. All these elements can cause irritation, redness of the skin, and also cause eczema. And their accumulation on the hair leads to their fragility and dehydration.

Chromium-6 can also cause skin allergies. It is a known carcinogen found, for example, in most tap water in the United States.

Chlorine , which is used as a disinfectant to remove harmful bacteria and keep the water clean as it flows to our faucets, also leads to some type of skin rash.

In some people, chlorine can worsen asthma and eczema symptoms – despite the fact that this substance is not actually classified as an allergen, but as an irritant.

However, for example, for asthma patients, chlorine can be a serious danger. It causes breathing problems by irritating the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract.

Also, chlorine can worsen the condition of people with eczema or contact dermatitis, leading to excessive drying of their skin.

Another chemical often used to treat tap water is fluoride. There is also speculation that fluoride may cause allergy symptoms in some people. But for now, fluorine, like chlorine, is classified as an irritant. Although reported effects of its effects on sensitive individuals have included:

Inflammation of the oral mucosa and skin


contact dermatitis and

respiratory irritation.


But water itself is not always to blame for reactions after contact with water. Sometimes a reaction to water may actually be an allergy to soap. In addition, unlike aquagenic urticaria, allergies to detergents are not uncommon. The most common culprits for soap allergies are perfumes, preservatives, abrasives, etc. that are added to detergents. Moreover, a reaction can occur both to a new type of soap, and to the one that a person has been using for years.


Most tap water reactions occur immediately or within 48 hours of contact. Symptoms of aquatic urticaria usually appear immediately after water has entered the body.

In this case, the rash can not only itch, but also hurt. It usually occurs on the neck, arms and chest. Though the urticaria can appear and in other places.

But often the symptoms disappear on their own in 30-60 minutes after you dry the body.

In severe cases, tap water can cause symptoms such as:

rash around the mouth

Difficulties with swallowing


·      labored breathing.

Rarely, a water allergy can cause a life-threatening reaction in the form of anaphylaxis . Therefore, at the slightest risk of such a scenario, you need to have an adrenaline auto -injector with you.

In addition, you need to know that reactions can spread not only to the skin and respiratory organs, but also to the gastrointestinal tract.

Soap allergies most often affect the face, lips, eyes, ears, or neck. Her symptoms include:



itching and


Other substances in the water, such as chlorine and fluoride, as well as hard water, lead to excessive dryness of the skin. A rash may also appear at the site of contact with irritants.


In order to minimize the concentration of foreign substances in tap water, it is recommended to install modern water filters, such as carbon or reverse osmosis.

If the problem is in a mile, it is better to choose a product with a small amount of ingredients. And before using a new tool, it is recommended to do a sensitivity test to it. Place a small amount of soap on the crook of your elbow and wait 48-72 hours. If you feel redness, swelling, itching or burning, do not use this soap.

In any case, to find out the causes of a rash or other reaction to water, it is better to visit an allergist. After conducting special testing, the specialist will not only find out the cause of the reaction, but also select the treatment and determine the further strategy of behavior with water.

It is possible that you will have to limit contact with water as much as possible. This includes short, infrequent showers and wearing waterproof clothing. Antihistamines may be used to relieve symptoms of itching .

In some cases, when the disease is mild or moderate, the doctor may suggest phototherapy.

But in case of severe reactions like anaphylaxis, as already noted, you should immediately call an ambulance and inject adrenaline.

Nervous allergies: why it occurs and how to deal with it


When the body is not coping with stress, it signals you about it in a certain way. At first, it may be an inability to wake up quickly in the morning, brittle hair, or skin problems in the form of excessive dryness or rashes. Further, if the level of stress is not reduced, bodily problems may increase. It has long been known that a number of diseases can occur on the basis of nerves. But the fact that among them there may be an allergy, researchers began to talk relatively recently.

So, prolonged stress can lead to overworking of the adrenal glands. After all, the adrenaline produced by them during stress can remain in the body for about 4 weeks. One of the most effective ways to get rid of it faster is to switch to physical activity. For example, perform a series of physical exercises. However, for example, children tend to release excess adrenaline through crying.

Interestingly, when we drink coffee (caffeine), the adrenal glands also release adrenaline. But if you constantly stimulate the release of adrenaline in this way, the body will quickly get tired.

Signs of exhaustion may include:

·      fatigue,

·      fear,

·      anxiety,

· depression,

memory loss,

difficulty concentrating,

insomnia, etc.

Excessive nervous tension also affects susceptibility to infections and the functioning of the immune system. In particular, it stimulates the occurrence of autoimmune diseases, which include allergies. It also promotes cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, immune aging, and increases allergic reactions.

According to various sources, up to 75% of all doctor’s office visits are related to stress.

Stress can also cause persistent increases in sympathetic nervous system activity, including increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and catecholamine secretion, and platelet aggregation, which may at least partially explain the known association between stress, immune changes, and cardiovascular disease. .

Clinical observations confirm the adverse effect of psychological stress on the course of the disease in patients with allergies and are supported by studies. Including – Ukrainian scientists who showed the connection between anxiety, the general psychotype of the personality and the course of seasonal allergic rhinitis.


Foreign studies have shown that the impact of difficult life events, lack of support or constant criticism against the background of a current mood disorder are associated with an increase in the frequency of visits to doctors for asthma exacerbations. And its development in childhood is preceded by behavioral disorders and the life of the baby against the backdrop of family conflicts.

In general, the development of allergic reactions lead to:

family history,

the influence of the environment,

as well as factors such as maternal diet,

Reproductive physiology and the conditions in which the child was born.

Also important:

duration of breastfeeding

Features of the child’s nutrition

and the level of vitamin D in his diet,


·      physical activity

psychological stress.

Asthma is often referred to as “nervous asthma” in earlier studies. And in the early descriptions of atopic dermatitis, this condition was called nothing more than “neurodermatitis” . Because of the belief that the itching and scratching associated with a rash is primarily related to “nerves” and emotions. Today we simply speak of such conditions: “allergy from the nerves.”

Research has shown that chronic psychosocial stress associated with a shift in Th1/Th2 balance to Th2 predominance can exacerbate allergic diseases such as allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, and asthma.

It is known that patients with atopic dermatitis experience more severe symptoms of the disease in case of nervous tension. Patients with allergic rhinitis are more susceptible to upper respiratory tract infections during periods of high psychological stress. And their manifestations of the disease are more pronounced. And asthma patients who experience high levels of stress worsen common symptoms of the disease, such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and sometimes chest pain.

For example, a study of 20 students with asthma showed an increase in the number of eosinophils in their sputum just before exams. Also during this period, compared with the mid-semester, there were significantly higher levels of eosinophils in the blood, which could also provoke an exacerbation of asthma.


The triggering of the stress mechanism leads to the activation of the pituitary-adrenal axis. Their interaction begins with the secretion of a hormone that releases corticotropin, which, in turn, induces the secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) from the anterior pituitary gland. This hormone activates the secretion of corticosteroids by the adrenal cortex. At the same time, catecholamines are synthesized by the adrenal medulla, in the sympathetic nervous system and in the brain. In particular, adrenaline and norepinephrine. Catecholamines and corticoids (GCS) suppress the production of interleukin 12 (IL-12) by antigen-presenting cells. This substance stimulates the transition of primary T-lymphocytes to Th1-lymphocytes. Accordingly, when this substance is less, the synthesis of Th2 lymphocytes associated with the development of an allergic reaction increases. GCS can also have a direct effect. In short, as a result of numerous processes , reactions mediated by Th2 cells begin to predominate. And they, in turn, contribute to the formation of an allergic response to external stimuli in a susceptible person.

On the other hand, nerve problems can also lead to so-called pseudo-allergic reactions. That is, if you, while under stress, undergo skin or molecular allergy testing, then your reactions to a particular allergen will most likely be determined as negative. But at the same time, all physical manifestations will indicate an allergy. In this case, skin manifestations may appear on the hands, face and other parts of the body. There is a runny nose and symptoms from the gastrointestinal tract.

In fact, such a reaction may be a sign of a panic attack, or as it is also called “emotional tsunami” . This is, in fact, the switching of the body’s forces from an internal struggle with a situation that it regards as threatening, to the production of physical symptoms.

This position activates the hormone cortisol, which prepares the body to deal with stress.

The person may feel:

·      labored breathing,

·      chest pain,

· sweating,

·      cardiopalmus,

·      dizziness,

·      weakness,


·      nausea,

tingling in the chest.

Anything can provoke a panic attack: an unpleasant meeting, winning the lottery, general stress.

In addition, some people may experience these conditions more often than others. This is especially true for those who already have the same problem or had someone in the family.

The stress response is useful in the short term (it allows you to survive a difficult situation). But if the stress response is activated repeatedly, over time it can lead to depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, heartburn, and many other health problems, including the already mentioned worsening of allergy symptoms.


The main signs of stress are:

·      cardiopalmus

appearance of acne

psoriasis and rosacea

hives or rash

brittle nails

hair loss


While the main signs of an allergy include:

·      runny nose,


rash on the body


problems with breathing or digestion,

sensation of irritation in the mouth and throat,

·      cardiopalmus.

That is, quite often, individual symptoms of nervous excitement and allergies can be duplicated.

With regard to the time of onset of symptoms, the reaction may occur immediately – within a few minutes or two hours, or may occur with a delay.

So, stress can exacerbate allergy symptoms. An allergic rash in adults can appear everywhere. Nerve rashes may appear on the arms, face, abdomen, or shoulders, and hives may cover a large area and cause additional discomfort.

In particular, nervous urticaria may occur . Such a rash, which occurs as a result of stress, can be characterized by large patches that can coalesce to form entire islands. Nervous urticaria often has a bright pink color with dark edges and is characterized by severe itching.

an anaphylactic reaction may develop , which is life-threatening and requires the immediate administration of adrenaline.


Slow breathing exercises and meditation work well for panic attacks .

Psychotherapy and medications are also tools to help manage anxiety. The use of more vitamins and minerals , especially magnesium, also has a positive effect on the nervous system .

Antioxidants, vitamins C and E , will also be useful . Studies have shown that they can reduce the immunoregulatory imbalance that is noted in people who are under stress.

Nutrients for healthy nerves can be found in pumpkin seeds and green leafy vegetables.

sleep, rest and physical activity , such as running, also help fight stress .

Studies show that relaxation therapy has a positive effect on the course of asthma, and psychotherapy can reduce the number of asthma exacerbations and lead to the restoration of a more normal Th1 / Th2 balance.

Physiological interventions for allergic diseases include various forms of exercise as well as alternative medicine methods. They may, at least in part, work through their effect on your body’s stress response.

The exercise training program is well tolerated by children with mild to moderate asthma and improves aerobic fitness.

There is also evidence that stress pharmacological interventions (mainly psychoactive drugs and antidepressants) may have a therapeutic role in asthma by suppressing the production of pro- inflammatory cytokines, inducing the production of anti-inflammatory molecules, and/or preventing these inflammatory molecules from acting on the brain. And anxiolytic drugs may improve the quality of asthma management in people with anxiety.

However, to complete the effect, the treatment of nervous tension in patients with allergies should be comprehensive. Moreover, there is evidence that improving the course of allergies can also lead to relief of symptoms from the nervous system.

In the treatment of allergies, urticaria nervosa, the main principles are to identify the allergens that trigger the reaction, and their further avoidance or minimization of exposure. For seasonal or household allergies, allergen immunotherapy can be an effective treatment. It can be administered orally or by subcutaneous injection.

Symptomatically, antihistamines and corticosteroids help with allergies.

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