By Neil Athey
A toddler is so allergic to water that her own TEARS cause her to break out in a painful rash – and now her desperate mum is trying to teach her to hold back her sobs.
Little Ivy Angerman’s cheeks turn red and blister when she cries due to rare allergy ‘aquagenic urticaria’ which she was diagnosed with in October last year.
The condition means that the 18-month-old can’t enjoy a bath, take a trip to the pool or play with the hose in the backyard of their home in Hastings, Minnesota, without breaking out in angry welts.
Even sweating can cause an outbreak of painful hives, with fraught mum Brittany Angerman having to resort to sanitisers and wipes to clean her daily, as Ivy screams when bathed in plain water.
Full-time mum Brittany, 27, said: “When she was diagnosed my heart hit the floor, we were all very upset and shocked.
“It’s at the point now where she can’t get in the bath for more than 15 or 20 seconds before she starts screaming.
“She tries to climb up the wall of the bath because it’s hurting her and she wants to get out.
“She then starts crying from the pain and this means her face starts to blister because she’s allergic to them too.
“It’s very difficult for me as a parent because she wants to cry, she’s a girl and will want to cry a lot.
“I’m going to have to teach her to not cry and try to hide it or bring it out in some other way.
“It’s really hard, it breaks my heart, everything about it makes me upset.”
Brittany and her husband Daniel Angerman were told by allergy experts the condition is so rare only around 50 people in the world have been diagnosed with it.
Ivy’s reactions can last from a couple of minutes to up to an hour, depending on how long the little girl is in contact with water for.
The youngster is still able to drink water, however her life is full of restrictions.
Brittany said: “We’ve got down to giving her one bath a week.
“Her skin looks like she’s getting washed in bleach, I’m effectively washing my daughter in bleach.
“When we try to dry Ivy her blisters hurt a lot so we cannot use towels.
“We have to let her air dry and she runs around for a bit.
“When she sweats, the liquid brings her out in a bit of a rash and it goes red.
“It’s the same when she cries, she breaks out in a rash.
“She takes antihistamines to help try and keep the reaction as small as it can be however we only let her take them on ‘wet days’ because we’re worried her body might grow immune to them and then they won’t work at all.”
Brittany, who cares full-time for Ivy at home, uses sanitisers and hand wipes to clean her on a daily basis and is trying to come up with ways to manage the condition.
Mum-of-three Brittany said: “Ivy started getting a red rash and blisters last October while in the bath tub and we thought it was the shampoo or the soap.
“We tried everything and nothing changed, so we put her in water and she still got blisters.
“We tried our parents’ water, we tried city water, countryside water and nothing changed.”
Brittany, who’s been married to Daniel, 31, for four years, said their little girl has already developed a fear of bathing and water.
Brittany said: “Ivy used to love the water, she used to love playing about with the hose in the back yard in the summer, but now she’s terrified of it and as a mother it makes me incredibly sad.
“I’m constantly asked questions like ‘how can she be allergic to water when she’s made of it?’ but people don’t understand that it can and has happened.
“You don’t think about the sort of obstacles that can come up – the rain can set her allergies off so you have to make sure she’s covered up.”
Ivy’s two sisters, Alexis, 12, and six-month-old Grace, have helped support Ivy through her allergy, Brittany said.
Brittany said: “Grace watches everything Ivy does and Alexis is so good with her.
“They are great sisters and I know all three are going to be the best of friends when they grow older.
“It’s going to be hard when Grace wants to do everything and I know Ivy won’t be able to do anything.
“She won’t be able to go swimming or play in the park properly or anything like that, she’s getting curious to go outside now.
“We surrounded by snow but we don’t want her to go near it and let it set her allergies off.”
The couple have concerns about the future and how Ivy’s allergy may develop and the daily challenges she will face.
Brittany said: “I’m concerned – what happens if one day a child at school decides to pour water over her?
“I’m worried she will get bullied or teased for it when she’s older.
“She’s going to miss out on certain activities and won’t be able to do everything her friends will.
“I was told by an allergist there’s a woman who cannot drink anything but diet coke as she’s become allergic to drinking water.
“We don’t know if Ivy will ever get to that stage but she will be seeing an allergist every two months to monitor her.
“I have to document everything – when the rash comes up, what they look like, how long they last for – it’s all got to be written down for the allergists.
“I do hope my other daughters don’t get it, they’ve not shown any signs of getting it but it will kill me as a mother for them to get it too.”
The family have set up a GoFundMe page to try and raise $50,000 to help them pay for medical expenses.
Brittany said: “We want to try and buy her a water purifier which we hope could make the reaction less intense for her.
“Eventually we will think about moving somewhere that is not as wet too.
“It’s very tough for the family but we will take each day as it comes and figure out how to do what is best for Ivy.”
Ivy’s GoFundMe page can be found at www.gofundme.com/ivylynn
WHAT IS AQUAGENIC URTICARIA?
• Aquagenic urticaria is an extremely rare form of urticaria (hives) where small wheals occur on the skin when it comes in contact with water, usually on the upper part of the body.
• Urticaria consists of pink or white raised areas of skin resembling a nettle rash, known as ‘wheals’ and are usually itchy.
• The wheals are often round or ring-shaped, individually wheals typically disappear of their own accord within 24 hours without a trace, although the course of the condition is longer.
• It’s caused by the release of histamine from cells in the skin called mast cells.
• Treatments target the symptoms but are not a cure.
• Antihistamine tablets are used to block the reaction affect and reduce itching.
(Information supplied by the British Association of Dermatologists)