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3 strange but very real allergies and sensitivities

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3 strange but very real allergies and sensitivities

The release of the film Midnight Sun this year, had a lot of people questioning “are sun allergies real?” It’s about a girl who has a life-threatening sensitivity to sunlight. We should point out that allergies and sensitivities are not the same things, although both can produce very similar symptoms. In the case of Midnight Sun, the character has neither. Rather her condition is based on xeroderma pigmentosum. It’s a rare genetic disorder where the skin cannot heal itself after damaging exposure to UV light. Any exposure to the sun is forbidden.

Despite this, allergic reactions and sensitivities to sunlight do exist. It’s strange that something so natural and fundamental to life can cause such nasty reactions in people. But, this is the case with a lot of common allergies. For example, food, pollen, and medicine are all vital to our lives, but for many people, they can be fatal. Interestingly, there are some allergies and sensitivities to things most of us would never suspect, but they are real nevertheless. These are a few of them.

Water

That’s right. Even though water makes up 60% of our bodies, for some, contact with water means a painful skin rash, known as aquagenic urticaria. The understanding of why this happens is patchy at best. Most scientists don’t believe it to be a true allergy to water, but rather speculate it as a reaction to unknown, dissolved substances in the water. Or, they say it could be a reaction between these dissolved substances with some in the skin which creates a new allergen. This sensitivity, although rare, is more common in women and symptoms often start around the onset of puberty.

Semen

Again, something that is so vital to life can cause itching, redness, burning, and swelling. It is thought to be a type-1 allergic reaction, the same as hay fever or cat dander, and is believed to be a result of allergenic proteins produced by a man’s prostate gland. Like most allergies, this issue can appear at any time in your life, and it can be mild or severe. Severe enough to cause anaphylaxis in an unlucky few. Luckily, skin prick tests and blood antibody profiles can determine a semen allergy as doctors sometimes mistake it for a case of chronic vaginitis in women.

Allergy medicine

In what seems to be a cruel twist of fate, some people with allergies can be allergic to the allergy medicine. People can be allergic to any medication, but this one is particularly rare as it causes the problem it is meant to prevent. Usually, dyes and other chemicals in the medicine are responsible for the reaction. If this is the case, a person with this allergy will need to visit an allergy centre to explore other treatments, for example, immunotherapy.

At London Allergy and Immunology Centre, we’ve seen it all. No case is too strange for us to tackle. If you are experiencing symptoms that you think may be the result of an allergy or sensitivity, book an appointment with one of our specialist consultants today online or by calling 02031 433 449. We can do all the tests you need to determine the cause of what you’re experiencing to ensure you can live your best life.

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