20 Weird Allergies That Actually Exist
Plants, animals, and food all involve corresponding allergies with which the general populace is familiar. However, due to their very nature, it is entirely possible for humans to develop negative reactions to almost anything on the planet. Allergies are established when the immune system fires itself up over a generally harmless – if not outright helpful – stimulus, such as the aforementioned plants, animals, and food. Thinking the foreign object means to endanger the body, it launches an assault of histamines as a protective measure, resulting in numerous physical upsets ranging from itchy skin to complete anaphylactic shock. The following list compiles a few unexpected, somewhat obscure allergies and analyzes the research behind a few of the sketchier claims, leaving the reader to decide what he or she ultimately makes of it.
It should be noted that anyone who has reason to believe that he or she suffers from an allergy, whether common, uncommon, well-known, or comparatively esoteric, ought to consult a medical professional for a detailed skin test. Doing so serves as an invaluable safeguard against discomfort, illness, and even death.
Also known as Aquagenic urticaria, this rare allergy wreaks biological havoc on those suffering from it. Contact with the most abundant substance on the planet results in painful hives, welts, lesions, and rashes on the body that crop up within 5 to 10 minutes. Symptoms persist for anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours and are treated using capsaicin creams instead of the usual antihistamines, as the condition is not caused by histamines like most others of its type. While the actual underlying cause of the allergy remains obscured, many experts believe that individuals for whom it is the sad reality may actually possess ultrasensitive skin reacting more towards additives in the water as opposed to the water itself.
Money allergies actually stem from a negative reaction to the nickel used in coinage rather than a most unfortunate aversion to the supposed root of all evil that also somehow simultaneously makes the world go ‘round. It is actually one of the most common instigators of allergy-related dermatitis, but the fact that nickel permeates many levels of existence renders the condition rather unusual. Jewelry makers, for example, must frequently construct wares without the whitish-silver metal to ensure a broader consumer base. Rashes, redness, blisters, bumps, itching, and suddenly dry skin may set in 12 to 48 hours after exposure, and may be exacerbated should the individual sweat during contact. At the moment, there is no steadfast cure aside from trying to avoid nickel whenever possible. However, antihistamines, corticosteroid pills and creams, certain over-the-counter lotions (Mayo Clinic advises avoidance of those ending with the suffix “-caine”, and wet compresses can quell irritation from the symptoms.
3. Apples and birch trees
The bizarre case of Grace Morley was first mentioned in London’s Mirror on April 20, 2009, but has yet to crop up elsewhere. Whether or not this is due to researchers still attempting to make sense of the situation or the fact that the reporting periodical is actually a gossip-centric tabloid (and therefore of questionable accuracy remains to be seen. However, should the allergy prove nonfiction it will easily come to stand as one of the strangest in existence. Morley is not allergic to either apples or birch trees. In spite of this, though, she allegedly reacts quite violently to both when exposed to them in tandem – a claim so bizarrely spectacular that it may very well be true. While many websites are reporting this as fact, the veracity of the paper’s claims must first be confirmed by a reliable medical professional to be considered as such.
Unsurprisingly, allergic reactions to vibrations are rather rare. As the name implies, it involves an episode of urticaria induced by vibrations from machinery such as cars and lawnmowers. Like more prolific allergies, it is caused by the body mistaking harmless contact as an attack – with the immune system responding accordingly. Welts, rashes, and other forms of skin irritation usually set in within 5 minutes and persist for hours (or days in extreme cases. Because vibration-induced urticaria comes from histamines, it can be treated in the usual manner with antihistamines, corticosteroids, and calamine lotion.
5. Mobile phones
Some mobile phone allergies may stem from a physical aversion to nickel, but other attacks result from negative reactions to low levels of radiation and microwaves. As rare as it may be, the idea hardly comes as a surprise. With cell phones more or less considered a necessity for professional success and personal interaction, humanity finds itself up close and personal with more electromagnetism, microwaves, and radiation than before. It makes sense that those harboring relatively sensitive skin would contract dermatitis or urticaria from coming into contact with these waves. While the expected redness, itchiness, and welts calm upon using corticosteroids, antihistamines, and the like, these merely serve as short-term solutions to a long-term issue. Radiation shields, handless headsets, and taking advantage of the speakerphone feature available on most phones may potentially alleviate symptoms; however, the only guaranteed method is going without a mobile phone altogether. Unfortunately, those living in a society almost wholly dependent on technology may not be able to realistically do so.
This rather inopportune allergy usually comes rooted alongside a corresponding sensitivity to perfumes or other ingredients in the deodorant or antiperspirant itself. Those who play host to sensitivity towards the substances typically suffer from itchy redness and peeling skin, with hives, pustules, painful pimples, and broken, oozing lesions in more severe instances. All of these issues may be treated in the same manner as other allergies. Obviously, a physical resistance to deodorant poses a threat to basic personal hygiene, as the victim cannot be expected to continue using a product that causes discomfort and damage. However, it is never a good idea to traipse about moistly reeking of the inside of a sneaker, either. Some prescription deodorants may prove valuable, though more serious cases ought to consider viable alternatives such as talcum or baby powder. It is advisable for those finding themselves in the latter situation to carry a small bottle or bag of the stuff to re-apply throughout the day as necessary.
The act of kissing in and of itself does not inherently carry with it an allergic risk, but it does act as a perfect conduit for many others to sow the seeds of discord. Individuals with a high level of physical resistance to some medications, foods, and cosmetics may find themselves uncomfortable or seriously sick if their partners have partaken of their particular poison. Fifteen-year-old Quebec resident Christina Desforges, who suffered from a lethal peanut allergy, succumbed to anaphylactic shock and died in 2005 after kissing her boyfriend. The young man in question had eaten a peanut butter sandwich for lunch earlier and subsequently exposed Desforges to the remains. Many other reports of similar instances around the world – usually resulting more in illness as opposed to death – have been filed as well. Because of this, people with allergies so dire that even secondary contact poses a threat need to communicate openly with their partners as a means of preventing a tragic incident.
However unusual it may sound, dermatitis resulting from shoe allergies is surprisingly common. Usually, the flaking, irritated skin can be attributed to a negative reaction after contact with chemicals used in the manufacturing of the shoes. Glues, resins, rubber cements, and ingredients for tanning leather are generally the guilty parties and may contain compounds such as formaldehyde, rosin, and chromates. Sweat plays a role in spreading the aggravation all over the foot as well. Fortunately, there are several methods that a victim of shoe allergies can utilize as a means of curbing the pain. Keeping perspiration under control with clean socks, deodorants, and powders helps quite a bit, as do inserts. Those suffering sensitivity to rubber or leather may do well to opt for shoes made of vinyl and other synthetic materials instead.
As with the shoe allergy, men and women who find themselves grappling against rashes and lesions because of their underwear point fingers towards the fabric used in assembling the garment. Latex and rubber in the waistbands, chemicals used in creating synthetic fabrics such as nylon and lycra, and resins for treating can all cause skin irritations in affected individuals. The easiest solution fortunately exists as the best. After confirming an allergy with a professional skin test, simply seek out undergarments made of materials without the offending constructs. Should a search at local stores ultimately prove fruitless, online retailers such as Cottonique specialize in hypoallergenic clothing.
Solar urticaria causes painful hives, rashes, and other skin inflammations after exposure to sunlight. Symptoms usually begin fading within the span of a day, but nevertheless prove a major annoyance and inconvenience for those saddled with them. Prescription antihistamines and corticosteroids can calm the effects or pause them completely. Sunscreens provide a small amount of protection, but still allow some potentially irritating ultraviolet rays to reach the skin and should really only be used as one of many precautionary measures. Wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, and comfortable protective clothing typically offer more coverage and safeguarding than sunscreen.
Human seminal plasma hypersensitivity is an extremely rare and difficult to diagnose allergy to male ejaculate. Because the symptoms – usually involving burning sensations, rashes, and welts – overlap with a number of infections (sexually transmitted or otherwise, doctors frequently overlook the possibility in favor of more common explanations. The only real signifier of a semen allergy is that the irritations set in within 10 minutes of contact. Researchers at Beth Israel Medical Center and its parent institution Albert Einstein College of Medicine discovered that desensitization works as a rather successful cure. Men and women suffering from the allergy are advised to attempt regular intercourse every 48 hours, and at least one case was able to achieve success after 5 months of this routine.
One of the most common classifications of urticaria, dermatographism comes from a negative reaction to varying degrees of pressure. Depending on the severity of the case, anything from a slight touch upwards can trigger an allergic episode. It can either affect the entire body or localized areas. Many individuals stuck with the condition have quite a bit of fun with it, using their bodies as outlets for creative expression by scratching messages and designs into their skin. While a permanent cure has yet to be found, antihistamines usually work well as a treatment option. More serious instances may require some shifts in lifestyle to minimize potentially painful contact.
Individuals who find themselves allergic to their computers have any number of possible factors to blame. Some may suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity. Others may react poorly to emissions from plastic casings. Still others cannot handle the triphenyl phosphate used as a flame retardant. No matter the root cause, users with computer-related allergies must usually contend with itchy skin irritations, nasal discharge, and headaches – among other symptoms. Sitting within two feet of the monitor only exacerbates the situation. Extreme cases of electromagnetic may even require binoculars to view the screen.
Fortunately, allergies to anesthesia are rather rare. However, it also claims 3.4% of its victims as well. In these fatalities, anaphylactic shock settles in while the patient lay unconscious – a dire situation which anesthesiologists are thankfully trained to quickly catch and treat before a life is claimed. Many hospitals and clinics these days try to test patients for potential negative reactions to anesthesia whenever possible, but that sadly is not the case for individuals in emergency situations. Alternatives do exist for patients who qualify, and those concerned that they may suffer from the allergy ought to consult a medical professional for a skin test as a potentially life-saving measure.
Most people mistake the mild version of this condition with heat rash. In actuality, situations such as these may not prove an allergic reaction to warm internal or external temperatures at all, but rather the sweat that coats the body as a result. It usually involves painful welts and itchy red skin that develop within minutes and take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours to fully dissipate. It is actually a rather common condition and can be triggered by any activity that activates the sweat glands – even the consumption of spicy foods. However, in spite of its prevalence, doctors struggle with forming a cogent diagnosis because of its frequent overlap with a plethora of other skin and thyroid disorders. If an individual finds him- or herself on the receiving end of a diagnosis, he or she needs to work with a medical professional to determine all possible triggers. Antihistamines, tricyclic antidepressants, and anabolic steroids may all serve as potential pharmacological solutions in more severe instances, but lifestyle analysis and avoidance of offending situations also play a role in effective treatment as well.
Individuals with cold urticaria break out into annoying itching, redness, and welts after exposure to chilly or frozen conditions. Some may experience swelling in the extremities as well. The most dire cases run the risk of hypotension, but fatalities are fortunately extremely rare. Nevertheless, victims need to minimize their chances of anaphylactic shock by keeping as warm as possible and avoiding as many situations where they may come in contact with the cold as they can manage without severely impacting their social or professional life. This not only includes weather, but swimming pools, air conditioning, chilled food and beverages, IV lines, and even activities which restrict blood flow or produce a cooling sweat. Oral and topical antihistamines can act as valid supplements to bundling up.
On the other side of the coin, it is also possible to suffer from cholinergic (heat urticaria as well. Individuals with the condition complain of the expected welts and stinging, itching, burning, or swelling red skin. Symptoms begin their onset around five minutes following exposure to temperatures above 109.4°F (43°C and usually result from an increase in body heat. Exercise, hot showers, saunas, blankets, jackets, and even spicy foods or intense emotional reactions may all trigger an allergic episode. Antihistamines and beta blockers have both proven successful in quelling the effects of cholinergic urticaria, though some affected persons may have to commit to some changes in habits to stave off the possibility of a severe reaction.
Because of its striking similarity to both cholinergic urticaria and sweat allergies, exercise urticaria and exercise-induced anaphylaxis make for an incredibly challenging, trying diagnoses. Some individuals may only suffer symptoms when combining exercise with possible triggers – pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs are the most frequent co-conspirators – but others need no further assistance for a reaction to descend. Cholinergic urticaria and sweat allergies alike may also factor into the equation as comorbid conditions that worsen symptoms or, worse, send the victim into anaphylactic shock. Hives, itchy skin, and swelling around the neck, torso, and extremities rear their irritating heads within minutes of completing an exercise routine, if not sooner. They typically stick around between 30 minutes and several hours. Prior to suffering anaphylactic shock, an individual may experience nausea or vomiting, a surreal sense of warmth, a swelling of the throat, and fatigue alongside the other symptoms. An epinephrine kit must be self-administered immediately before unconsciousness overtakes the patient. Individuals aware of their triggers and limitations must practice extreme cautiousness to avoid the possibility of such an awful fate.
Estrogen and progesterone may potentially cause allergic reactions in women, whose migraines, asthma, and dermatitis are often considered hormone shifts or menstrual symptoms instead. The immune system mistakes these perfectly harmless chemicals as assailants and attacks them as a result, stockpiling an arsenal of antibodies to combat them. Information on the subject is currently available through the National Institutes of Health’s extensive archive of journal articles; however, the medical professionals responsible for developing a solution to the issue have disconcertingly faced a number of censures from the Texas Medical Board. Because of this, the future of the allergy’s acceptance and treatment remain sketchy – assuming that in the end it does prove real.
20. Every food and drink except water
A condition so rare medical science has yet to apply a name to it, much media attention has been dedicated to children so hypersensitive to the world around them that water remains one of the only things incapable of instigating an allergic reaction. Kaleb Bussenschutt is one such case. His diet consists of water, ice, and one specific brand of lemonade, and he must receive the proper nutrients necessary to live through a tube that feeds directly into his stomach. Eating anything else results in agonizing stomach pain and cramps. Bussenschutt gets along physically as a result of 20 hours a day on the feeding tube (it stows away in a backpack so he may move about and be active, but due to extreme rarity of his disorder and the subsequent lack of available research subjects, no cure has yet to surface.
Because of the way allergies operate, it is entirely possible for a human to react negatively to stimuli far beyond the expected plants, animals, and foods. Everything from water to underpants can cause a body to erupt into itchy hives, rashes, and – tragically – far worse. In order to safeguard against allergies, individuals must tune in to their bodies and understand how it reacts to certain environmental factors. Those who notice a pattern of symptoms associated with specific situations and contacts ought to seek the counsel of an allergist or other medical professional for a skin test. Such measures greatly reduce the risk of inconvenience, inflammation, illness, and even death by anaphylactic shock.