Weird Allergies

Battling hay fever? Consider yourself lucky

By Robert Beauchamps

There’s no such thing as a good allergy. But if your only allergy is pet dander, consider yourself lucky as you consider the following.

Imagine no more baths, having to dodge raindrops every spring and never being able to swim without a wetsuit. Welcome to aquagenic urticaria, or an allergy to H2O. This is extremely rare, but any contact with water can cause severe headaches and red welts on any skin exposed to water. Fortunately, the act of drinking water does not cause any reaction.

Pity the poor soul cursed with porphyria, also known as “vampire disease.” Just as these mythical creatures of the night avoid the sun, so do humans afflicted with porphyria. An overabundance of chemicals called porphyrins affects the nervous system or skin or both. Even brief exposure to the sun’s rays can cause paralysis and psychosis.

Every Montrealer’s said it at least once: “I think I’m allergic to winter.” Well, maybe you suffer from cold-induced urticaria. Turns out a very small portion of the population is allergic to the cold weather and actually develop chronic hives due to exposure to frigid temperatures. Itchy, red, swollen hives are one thing, but according to the Mayo Clinic’s definition of urticaria, prolonged exposure to cold air and especially cold water can lead to fainting, shock and even death.

Imagine going barefoot for the rest of your life or going Dutch with wooden clogs covering your toes. You might have to if you developed shoe contact dermatitis. It comes down to the materials used, not the shoe itself, but cheap materials along with glue and resin can lead to severely cracked, itchy and painful skin around the toes and heel.

Summer 2014, Vol 6 N°3

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