When photographer Valentina Bones from Budapest, Hungary, cries or sweats, she ends up with patches of red marks on her skin.
Only after moving to California as a teenager, U.S, the 25–year-old was diagnosed with aquagenic urticaria.
The condition means hives or a rash develop rapidly after the skin is exposed to water, regardless of its temperature.
Valentina is allergic to any liquids including her own sweat and tears which makes her skin feel like ‘frying hot oil’.
When she comes into contact with it, her skin becomes red-raw.
As a result, Valentina must wear light clothing while outdoors in the sun and avoid being rained on at any cost.
From the age of 17, she noticed she was having an allergic reaction to water, which her mother thought was just something in the water where they lived in America.
Initially, the doctor believed it was most likely a vitamin deficiency.
Her rash develops within just two minutes when her skin is exposed to warm temperatures.
Valentina can last a bit longer in cooler temps where she can go about 20 to 30 minutes without a rash.
‘Any liquid triggers aquagenic urticaria: water, sweat, saliva and even juice from a juicy fruit,’ she explained.
‘The most common question I get when I tell someone I have water allergies is how do I shower? In the summer I shower with cold water, at an average time.
‘In the winter I either use wet washcloths or I shower with slightly warm but not hot water for less than three minutes.
‘I wash my hair separately by bending over in the tub so I don’t have to spend extra time in the shower with water getting in contact with my skin.’
But that doesn’t mean Valentina never bathes.
‘I take bubble baths maybe twice a year as a treat, on my birthday or Christmas. Which makes me really sad because I adore bath bombs; you can find me at a Lush store smelling everything.
‘For my face, the rashes come out from anything liquid at any temperature; hot or ice cold. On the rest of my body, it comes out faster with higher temperature water.’
Valentina doesn’t do any sports or physical activities as it causes her to sweat and break out, making strangers look at her.
During college, she took night classes as it was too hot and humid in the classroom during the day.
She has tried various solutions and treatments including aloe vera but none stop her skin becoming red and itchy when exposed to liquids.
‘My body can be in a cold pool for half an hour without any problems and then it will come out slowly and less painfully.
‘If I get in a jacuzzi, bathtub or a steam sauna, the rashes will come out within approximately a minute to two minutes.
‘But it also comes out from sweating after the gym or a dog licking me. So if anyone thinks this maybe just caused by something in the water, it is not.’
Valentina also added that she finds solace online where she’s opened up about the condition.
She wants to help others in her situation, advising them to hydrate from the inside by drinking lots of water.
And she tries not to let it weigh her down day to day.
‘As long as my body stays dry, my allergy to water does not make my life less happy,’ she added.
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