A young mum who became allergic to water after giving birth has to cover her body up when it rains.
Cherelle Farrugia, from Cardiff, is thought to be one of just 35 people affected by the condition worldwide and says it has turned her life in to a “nightmare”.
She must make sure someone is in the house with her when she showers as she’s been warned she could go into anaphylactic shock, Wales Online reports.
Cherelle gave birth to her daughter Willow in November 2017 but six weeks on she developed a painful rash every time she had a shower.
It took doctors three months to diagnose her with aquagenic urticaria, a rare condition which leads to hives developing rapidly after the skin comes into contact with water.
As a result the Cardiff and Vale College student is unable to take her daughter swimming.
There is currently no cure for the severe allergy but medics believe it is linked to changes in Cherelle’s hormones after giving birth to Willow.
“About six weeks after having my daughter I realised that every time I got out of the shower my skin would be really itchy,” she said.
“I initially thought it must be caused by the soap I was using. Then I thought it was the temperature of the water.
“But I tried all different temperatures – cold, hot, lukewarm and body temperature – but my body reacted to all of them.”
Cherelle, who lives in Fairwater, also crossed chlorine allergy and bacteria in the shower head off her list of possible causes.
“I was still reacting to everything but I didn’t think it could possibly be a water allergy. I’d never heard of such a thing.
“The first doctor I saw told me it was impossible but the second doctor I saw had heard of it and referred me to an allergist.
“The waiting list on the NHS was five months so I decided to go private.”
Cherelle, who is training to become a mental health councillor, said she developed postpartum depression after the birth of Willow which is likely to have triggered the allergy.
“It was horrific and it hit me out of nowhere. I was borderline suicidal,” she said.
“I couldn’t get out of bed, I couldn’t leave the house, and I was convinced something was going to happen to my daughter. I wouldn’t get anyone hold her.
“But I am very fortunate to be super close to my mum and dad and my partner is amazing.”
Despite her condition Cherelle is continuing to shower every day but is very regimented over how long she stays under the water.
“I have OCD so this condition is a nightmare for me as I always want to be clean,” said Cherelle, who is fine drinking water as the allergy does not affect her internally.
“I make sure I dry the water off my skin really quickly. It usually takes between 30 minutes and an hour [for the stinging and hives to subside].
“I always make sure there’s someone in the house with me when I shower now as I’ve been told I could go into anaphylactic shock.”
She believes the condition is more common than the figures suggest and is urging people with similar symptoms to contact their GP immediately.
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