Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S., and every year, severe allergic reactions to food result in 90,000 visits to the ER. Some of the most common allergens are found in food, pollen, mold, and dust mite allergies though the wide range that exists is astounding. Below are just a few that may be new to you.
Water (Aquagenic Urticaria)
Water sustains life and makes up around 60% of men’s (and 55% of women’s) bodies. It is therefore surprising to learn that some people are allergic to it! Aquagenic urticaria causes itchy, painful hives to appear whenever the person with this allergy comes into contact with water. Their body’s mast cells release histamine, which causes the itchy reaction. There is no known treatment for water allergy, though there are specific creams that can help soothe symptoms.
The Human Touch (Dermographism)
People with dermographism develop a type of urticaria when they are touched. Such is the level of their sensitivity that they can write their own names on their skin by slightly scratching their skin with a finger (“dermographism” actually means “skin writing”). A reaction can also be caused by rubbing fabric or bedsheets. Usually, the marks disappear after around half an hour and no treatment is required. The precise cause of this allergy is unknown, because no allergen has been identified.
If you develop an allergic rash on your hands after handling coins, you are probably allergic to nickel sulphate. Other items that may cause the same reaction are doorknobs, fancy jewelry, lighters, and other items containing some types of metal. You can easily avoid symptoms by wearing gloves if you have to handle coins, and by keeping your coins in a wallet instead of letting them sit in your pocket.
If you develop itching, swelling, shortness of breath, wheezing, and other problem after taking dissolvable aspirin, the problem could be the aspirin itself. However, the problem could also be sodium lauryl sulphate—which is often used as a cleansing and foaming agent. This allergen can be evaded by taking other forms of aspirin and by avoiding allergenic cleaning items that contain sodium lauryl sulphate. The latter is present in most detergents, soaps, shampoos, and toothpaste.
Mango is one of the sweetest, best-loved fruits in the world. However, they contain urushiol—an oily substance that is present in plants and in other foods (including cashews and pistachios). Mango and other goods with this substance are edible cousins to poison ivy. The latter also releases urushiol when it is touched. Symptoms of a mango allergy include itching, swelling, and blisters, which usually occur around the mouth.
Think of food allergies and peanuts and shellfish may spring to mind. However, there are many odd allergies that can cause discomfort and pain—including mangos and cashews. Other rare allergies include those to sodium lauryl sulphate, coins, the human touch, and even something we typically deem innocuous—water.