10 bizarre allergies
24 February 2014, 10:23
Abuja - An allergy is reaction that occurs when the body's immune system overreacts to a substance that is normally harmless.
This substance is called an allergen. The cause of most people’s allergies is not known. An allergy usually begins with sensitisation when the person is exposed to an allergen, and symptoms vary according to the type of allergy.
1. If you thought being allergic to nuts, milk, wheat etc. was strange enough, that's just the tip of the allergy iceberg. There is a British woman who is – wait for it – allergic to water. 26-year-old Rachel Prince has to avoid absolutely all contact with water because even the tiniest drop on her skin can cause excruciating pain.
This condition is called Aquagenic Pruritus and even a drop of saliva can bring about an extremely itchy reaction.
According to the Daily Mail the condition is so rare it’s believed that Rachel is one of only about 35 sufferers in the world.
Water allergy is, however, not the only rare and bizarre allergy – here are some others :
2. Kissing allergy
Kisses can cause hives, rashes, itchy eyes, blisters on the eyelids, puffy lips, wheezing and respiratory distress. Though this allergy doesn't mean one is allergic to other people's lips or tongue, the person who suffers from this allergy is usually someone with a severe food or medicinal allergy.
Close contact and sharing of saliva, food particles or undissolved medicine in the other person's mouth can bring on this allergic reaction.
3. Touch allergy
This allergy is called Dermographism and is a type of physical urticaria (hives). The word means "skin writing" and the condition is named thus because, if you have this type of allergy, you can actually write your name on your skin with your fingernail.
The pressure on the skin causes an itchy hive reaction. You can also develop urticaria from tight clothing or even just towelling off after a hot shower. Dermographism affects about 4% of the world's population. The good news is the rash usually goes away on its own after about 15 to 30 minutes.
4. Sex allergy
This allergy, also called sperm allergy, occurs in both men and women. It occurs when the body's immune system overreacts when it encounters semen. The white blood cells mistakenly identify proteins in the semen as harmful invaders (such as bacteria or viruses) and launch an attack against it.
Common symptoms include burning, itching, and swelling of the genitals or areas of the skin that come into contact with the semen.
5. Wood allergy
While many people are allergic to certain types of wood or sawdust, there are cases where people are allergic to all types of wood in any form, whether it's sawdust or solid wood.
Along with wood allergies comes the fact that you can't touch paper, use a pencil, or be a lumberjack. The allergy can be so strong that it can cause the skin to look as if it were burned.
Most cases of wood allergies cause symptoms such as skin irritation, coughing, sneezing, and hives.
6. Exercise allergy
This type of allergy has, according to medical literature, affected about 1 000 people since the 1970s.
Exercise-induced anaphylaxis (EIA) is a severe allergic reaction caused by exercise. One type occurs after eating food within two hours of exercise and the other occurs independent of food. In either case, you should stop exercising, but you can prevent the food-related type by not eating before exercise.
Symptoms of this allergy are fatigue, warmth, itching, redness of the skin, followed by large hives, collapse and unconsciousness.
7. Sun allergy/Solar urticaria (SU)
This allergy, also called photosensitivity, is a rare condition that occurs when the body's immune system overreacts to sunlight. Exposure induces a case of urticaria or hives that can appear on both covered and uncovered areas of the skin.
It appears within 30 minutes of sun exposure and clears up within minutes of getting out of the sun.
8. Electricity allergy
This is also called electrosensitivity, and sufferers are sensitive to electric fields generated by products such as cell phones, microwaves, computers, and power lines.
Symptoms of electricity allergy include headache, ringing in the ears and fatigue. Do you have any of these symptoms? Could you be like the 39-year-old Debbie Bird from England who is so sensitive to any electromagnetic field that if she goes anywhere near one, she develops a painful skin rash and her eyelids swell to three times their normal size.
According to Everyday Health, several studies have been done to see if electrosensitivity really exists, and almost all of the studies have come up empty. But what is happening to Debbie?
Read: Is electrosensitivity simply due to the 'nocebo' effect? I.e., if you think you'll get sick from it, you do.
9. Leather shoe allergy
This one's a real pain in the foot. If you get a poison ivy-type rash on your feet after wearing leather shoes, you could be allergic to chemicals used in the leather tanning process. The solution to this condition is to wear thick socks, or shoes made from something other than leather.
10. Money allergy
This involves specifically coins. If you get symptoms such as rash, itching, redness, dry patches, swelling of the skin, and sometimes blisters after handling coins, you could have a reaction to nickel.
This is a silvery metal that is mixed with other metals to form alloys. It's found in coins, jewellery, zippers, the frames of eyeglasses, and many other objects.