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Bizarre allergies

Many of us have allergies or sensitivities. In my practice I deal with food and drink allergies and sensitivities. In other words, allergies and sensitivities caused by oral consumption of food and drinks.

So for a bit of a change I thought I’d share with you some rather weird ones, yet, not much joy to those who suffer from them.


People with cold urticaria are allergic to cold temperatures, and exposure to chilly air or frigid water can cause their skin to turn red, swell, itch and develop hives. While sucking on a popsicle or strolling through the frozen food section can be uncomfortable for someone with such an allergy, an activity like swimming in cold water can evoke a severe, whole-body reaction — leading to fainting, shock or even death. It is not yet clear what causes this condition, but some people may have overly sensitive skin cells due to genetics or illness.


Just as you can be allergic to cold, you can also be allergic to heat. People with heat

urticaria develop itchy, red, swollen skin and welts when they’re exposed to temperatures above 43c celsius. These reactions typically occur from an increase in body heat brought on by exercise, hot showers, saunas, blankets or even spicy foods.


Considering the human body is about 60% water it seems implausible — if not impossible — to be allergic to water. Fortunately, it is extremely rare. Known as aquagenic urticaria, it causes the skin to break out in painful hives and welts when it comes in contact with water, and in severe cases, a person's throat can swell when they drink water. Michaela Dutton a British woman who developed a water allergy after the birth of her son, drinks Diet Coke to survive — her body tolerates it even though it contains carbonated water. How do people like Dutton bathe? Quickly and carefully because even brief contact with water can cause a painful itchy rash that lasts for hours. Doctors aren't sure what causes water allergy, but some have hypothesized that elevated histamine levels play a role.

Mobile phones

Allergists and dermatologists are seeing an increasing number of "mobile phone rashes," itchy, red

bumps or painful blisters along the jaw, cheek and ear. But while it's often referred to as mobile phone allergy, it's actually a nickel allergy. Increased use of mobile phones has led to prolonged

exposure to nickel, a metal that's often used in phone buttons, LCD screen frames and headsets. However, there are also people who may be allergic to the electromagnetic emissions from mobile phone.

Women develop mobile phone rash more often because they're more likely to have been sensitised to nickel through ear piercing.


Someone with dermatographia (literally, "skin writing") can get raised red welts on their skin minutes after it's pressed or stroked. Clapping hands, irritation from clothes or bed sheets -- even sitting -- can cause hives. It's a condition related to the allergies to sunlight and cold. Worry and warm temperatures may make it worse. Antihistamines can often ease the symptoms.


Some people break out in hives after just a few minutes outdoors. After they step inside, the rash usually goes away within a few hours. This condition, called solar urticaria, isn't usually dangerous, but it can be itchy, uncomfortable, and a real damper to enjoying life. Sometimes it can be treated with desensitisation therapy: exposure to more and more UV light in a medical office until the body becomes used to it.

A Juicy Burger

Researchers at Vanderbilt University noticed that thousands of people in the South-eastern U.S. were having severe allergic reactions to meat, including rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, and trouble breathing. The bite of a lone star tick seemed to kick-start it. With this allergy, you'll need to think like a vegetarian: Avoid red meat and possibly dairy. Carry an emergency epinephrine pen, too, just in case.

Modern living

Talking on a mobile phones, reheating leftovers in the microwave, using a computer, cleaning the bathroom and driving a car are normal parts of living in the 21st century, but doing such ordinary tasks is excruciating for some people. A person with multiple chemical sensitivity experiences headaches and flu-like symptoms when exposed to anything from perfume to laundry detergent. Perhaps even more bizarre are people with allergies to electromagnetic fields from phones, computers, cars and microwaves.

Electrosensitivity syndrome isn’t a recognised medical condition, and doctors say there’s little scientific evidence to support a link between electromagnetic fields and poor health. But many people claim to suffer from this condition and say they experience painful skin rashes, swollen body parts, headaches and nasal discharge, among other symptoms.


A handful of change can leave you with an itchy rash. Body piercing is another common trigger. Nickel (a metal found in coins, jewellery, keys, and other everyday objects) is one of the leading causes of allergic dermatitis. A quick test in your allergist's office can often tell whether that's the problem. You can treat breakouts with a prescription corticosteroid cream.


No, really! It's a rare condition, but a visit to the gym can lead to hives and vomiting when you have exercise-induced anaphylaxis. The heart might even stop pumping correctly, which can lead to death. Jogging is the most common cause, but even lower-impact activity such as yard work can trigger it. Some people's symptoms are triggered by eating certain foods before exercise.


A party favourite could cause a reaction from a rash to anaphylactic shock. Latex, a stretchy rubber

material, is also found in some disposable gloves, rubber bands, toys, condoms and pacifiers. The allergy is more common with people who work in health care, have had many surgeries, or have spina bifida. If you're affected, wear a medical alert bracelet to give health care workers the heads-up to use alternative gloves when they treat you.


Though a 7-year-old will tell you that kissing gives you lice, the smooch itself isn't the problem. Even

after your face-smacking partner brushes their teeth, the saliva might still have traces of something they ate or a medicine taken earlier in the day. When you have a life-threatening allergy, get your sweetheart to swear off the stuff, too. Or you can brush, rinse, and then avoid locking lips for 24 hours (if you can resist).


As mentioned above, latex allergy when you're using latex condoms can make

things very uncomfortable in bed. Try ones made out of polyurethane instead.

However, if getting hot and bothered still gives you hives, you might be allergic to your partner's semen. A condom can protect you. Or an allergist can expose you to the substance a little bit at a time, so you build up tolerance.

Your Period

A very small group of women who have autoimmune progesterone dermatitis are actually allergic to their own hormone. They get hives, mouth sores, or a body rash when their progesterone peaks once a month. Mild cases can be treated with antihistamines and skin creams. For more severe cases, hormone therapy or removing your ovaries can fix the problem.

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