Posted by: Loraine | 2019/02/06


Seawater and lakes

Hi there! I don't know why I didn't google this topic before. I think it's ok for me to say I'm allergic to sea water, since I was 15yrs I have had reactions and now I'm 26yrs and it still happens. I thought I was crazy and everyone I tell thinks I'm crazy too. I get hives by seawater by just being splashed or even touching a lightly wet seashell and even wet sand. Last time it was so bad I felt my whole body was on fire and the sad part was that not even showering took it away, only taking 2 tablets of 25mg Benadryl is what made it slightly go away. It's brutal and mind blowing because I grew up on an island learning to swim in seawater at 5yrs, the ocean was a huge part of my childhood and now I can't enjoy what once was a lifestyle I get to sit on the sand and watch everyone have a dip and be careful of little kids running around splashing water everywhere. But going to my question I moved from the island and now I live in the USA and we have a couple of lakes nearby and I get symptoms in one lake but none in the other. I've always wondered what would they have in common that I get those reactions? Is algae something that could be part of the problem?

Expert's Reply


Allergy expert
- 2019/02/13

It seems unlikely that you would be allergic to sea water as the salt isn't an allergen and the fish or algae wouldn't impart enough allergen into the water to cause a reaction. Aquagenic Urticaria (allergy to all water) is extremely rare (less than 100 cases have ever been reported).  You may have Cold-induced urticaria when the wet skin cools rapidly and causes urticaria outbreaks or Cholinergic urticaria, perhaps from exercising (for example swimming) and then sweating afterwards when out of the water.

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