In an interview with New York Magazine, an 18-year-old college student with a water allergy shares several reasons why you should be incredibly grateful if you don’t share her aquagenic urticaria — of which there are fewer than 100 reported cases in existing medical literature.
The student, Alexandra Allen, was 12 years old when she first had a negative reaction to water, which she describes as “like the top layer of your skin getting sandpapered off.” Her showers last two minutes and only happen once a week, and she’s cut meat and dairy from her diet in order to stay clean for longer.
Allen can just barely even drink water, but this is the only way she can safety come into contact with it.
“The doctors say it shouldn’t impact me at all, but I have talked to a woman in England who lives on Diet Coke because water has totally destroyed her throat,” Allen told New York Magazine. “Technically, your esophagus has the same sort of glands as your skin, so it is possible that you could have that reaction — maybe that’s what’s happening to my voice right now. I’ve had laryngitis and I have been drinking a lot of water, so I sound scratchy.”
In general, Allen says she is constantly dehydrated. “I don’t want to drink too much water and cause problems. People ask me if drinking Gatorade would be better, but it has lots of water in it. When I’m dehydrated I just have to choose which pain I want to be in more.”
Read Alexandra Allen’s full interview online, and think of her every time you begrudgingly force yourself to drink water because you know you’re not doing it often enough.