What Are The Oddest Allergies?


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Susan Hayes Profile
Susan Hayes answered
Every year millions of us bemoan our allergies. We sniffle and wheeze through Hay Fever season, flee every cat we see and keep an EpiPen handy in case of accidental peanut consumption.

Most of the allergies we suffer are as common as pollen in the Spring, but there are a few that are not just rare, but damned strange too.

Sunlight - Solar Urticaria

Non-sparkling vampires, Goths and computer geeks are not the only ones who need to avoid the sun it seems. Some people are actually allergic to sunlight.

Exposure to the light emitted by that big ball of fire in the sky can cause more than just cause a nasty sunburn. For a small percentage of the population it can cause hives and itching, even through sunscreen and light clothing. You'll never see these guys at a nude beach either, because it is quite possible such a high level of exposure would cause anaphylaxis, which in turn can lead to multiple organ failure and death.

In yet more proof that we are our own worst enemy, those that suffer this condition are actually allergic to various proteins found in their own skin. Usually kept in check by allergic antibodies, these sneaky buggers change when exposed to sunlight. Suddenly the body's antibodies don't work anymore, and like a fleet of Federation ships that suddenly find a Romulan decloaking in their midst, they go on the attack.

Water - Aquagenic Urticaria

For some people, the mere act of showering is a hazard. While I'm pretty sure this isn't the reason that guy on your bus never bathes and always smells like a running shoe left out in the rain, it is possible they suffer from this bizarre allergy.

In mild cases contact with water can be managed with a steady diet of antihistamines, but there have been cases where even a high moisture atmosphere like a foggy day can cause welts and blisters to form. It is safe to assume most of these folks don't live near a rain forest or ocean. As an added level of weirdness, suffers can be so allergic that contact with their own body fluids will cause a reaction. Think of that the next time you nick your finger while chopping veggies for dinner and stick your bleeding finger in your mouth. Both the blood and saliva would cause an allergic reaction, literally adding insult to injury.

Sweat - Cholinergic urticaria

For some people it's not the chemical make up of water that triggers the allergy, but the chemicals secreted from their own bodies. Exactly why the skin erupts into hives when it comes into contact with the musky mixture known as sweat is not yet known; but its still a great reason to never use that treadmill you promised yourself you'd use every day. You know the one that's currently serving as a very expensive clothes hanger in the corner of your bedroom.

Many people suffer from a mild version of this allergy, which is often called "heat rash" or "heat bumps". In its most severe form, this allergy goes from annoying to “call an ambulance” whenever you break out in a sweat.

Cold – cold-induced urticaria

Most allergies are to physical items, but there are a handful that are reactions to environmental conditions, including cold. Those who suffer from this strange ailment must combat the cold in ways that would make most hardy northerners laugh as they wander around in shorts and a T-shirt while they shovel the snow from the driveway. Any exposed skin will break out in hives, and during the depths of winter an acute attack is a constant risk. For most who suffer from this particular allergy, swimming is extremely dangerous as it lowers the entire body's temperature to the point that it brings on anaphylaxis.

Though rarely fatal, it does have the benefit of ensuring you'll have a medical reason to never, ever be talked into going polar bear swimming. Who knows, you might even get prescribed a tropical vacation every winter.

Heath - Localized heat induced urticaria

Nature loves symmetry, and thus there is an allergy to heat as well as to cold. Often confused for the sweat allergy, a heat allergy is a physical reaction to the application of heat to the skin.

Anything from holding a hot Starbuck's coffee to just sitting in a sunbeam too long can cause the body to release histamines to combat what it perceives as a threat. Like the allergy to cold, it is caused by a misfiring of the body's immune system, bringing on a DEFCON 1 level response to the equivalent of a goose flying through your immune system's radar.

Pressure – Dermatographism

Humans are by our nature social creatures that generally thrive on physical contact, which is why your Aunt Alma is always trying to hug you and pinch your cheek.

For those who suffer from this next allergy though, a hug is the last thing they want.

Dermatogaphism, means literally "writing on skin". The doctors call it that because when you have this allergy, you can use your body like a canvas and draw on it. The simple pressure of touch or a scratch brings up weals and itchy hives that follow the lines drawn on the skin. Although handy for jotting down phone numbers at the bar even if you don't have a pen and a sure fire hit at office parties, it makes getting a massage a misery instead of a blissful experience.

Hormones – Estrogen and Progesterone Allergy

Recently doctors have identified a potential new allergy, one that might have a lot to do with why some women suffer more than other's during their dreaded “time of the month”. What until now has been remedied with doses of chocolate and ibuprofen may actually be an allergic reaction to the hormones progesterone and estrogen.

Hormone molecules were thought to be too small to create an allergic response, but new studies have found that women with significant changes in their health during their cycle showed higher levels of antibodies against those hormones. Research is ongoing, but it may well be that future generations ease their suffering with a pint of Rocky Road ice cream and an antihistamine fudge sauce.

Vibrations – Vibration induced Urticaria

Usually triggered by exposure to mechanical vibration, I am sure that any kid who had to push a lawnmower around on a fine summer day wished they had this condition.

Once again it is the body having a strange reaction to what should be ordinary stimuli, as histamines are released in response to the sufferer's body being treated like one of 007's martinis. Hives, weals and welts erupt after as little as five minutes exposure to any kind of vibration.

Exercise-induced Anaphylaxis

Yes, an allergy to exercise. Not a dream, but a reality. How many of us would give our eyeteeth for the chance to hand the gym teacher a doctor's note with this diagnosis back in school?

Known as EIA, this condition has symptoms that range from simple hives to shortness of breath, nausea, diarrhoea, fainting or low blood pressure. At its worst, this can bring on full Anaphylactic shock and even death. What makes this allergy unique is that it requires not one trigger, but two. Just exercising won't bring on EIA, unless the other trigger is present. The trick is that the secondary trigger could be anything, a food, alcohol, or even the weather that day. Unless both triggers are known, exercising is a like playing a game of Russian Roulette.

Semen - human seminal plasma hypersensitivity

Mother Nature has a cruel sense of humour. Going by the fancy title of human seminal plasma hypersensitivity, this allergy is what happens when a person's white blood cells takes on a puritanical attitude and declares war on proteins in the semen. In a case of mistaken identity, the blood cells identify these innocent, “just here for the party” proteins as harmful invaders such as bacteria or viruses.

This allergy can afflict both men and women, and weirdly enough a man can even become allergic to his own semen if it comes into contact with his bloodstream. I'll leave the details of how that could even happen up to your fevered imaginations. Along with the usual symptoms of itchiness, redness and swelling, semen allergies can also cause infertility and appears in 5-25% of couples having fertility issues.

The good news with this allergy is that desensitization can help alleviate symptoms. And by desensitization, they mean more sex. Apparently exposing the sufferer to increasing amounts of the allergen can temporarily alleviate symptoms. So if you know someone suffering from this allergy, you know what to do. Be a good friend and offer to help end their suffering.
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Anonymous commented
Very interesting article ... It just makes me realize how fragile our skin is compared to other animals.
Charlotte Salafia
Very interesting! I thought my allergy to peppers was weird... Sheesh! Kinda blows to have that sort of allergy since I live in the SouthWest
sera bellen
sera bellen commented
Very interesting article ... I love it it so interesting ..thank you.. Thank you
angelo esmejarda Profile
Dust pollution perfume scents
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Angel Jemenis
Angel Jemenis commented
Dust pollution? Isn't that common - I mean you wouldn't say that you're allergic to pepper - if it gets in your nose you're going to sneeze.
MoonTan commented
I have the sun allergy. If I don't wear sunblock and go outside for less than ten minutes, I get a crazy itchy, sometimes painful rash anywhere exposed to the sun. It runs in my family, but only the females. I hate looking for sunblock. I have to get at least spf 60, and reapply every half an hour.
martha Profile
martha answered
This may not be so odd- but I am allergic to grass! I cannot stand the smell of it or the feel of it when walking through it in sandals. It makes me itch all over and even break out in tiny red bumps, If I have to be outside for any length of time, I have to take benadryl first.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
I also have the cold-induced urticaria. And I live in Massachusetts. Just getting into the car to drive anywhere in the winter can be enough to set it off. Or even a strong wind on a summer day can set it off. Still lucky its easier to manage than a water allergy.
Jude Fella Profile
Jude Fella answered
I've had cold induced urticaria for 18 years. I don't get welts anymore, but if my skin gets cold, especially when I get wet, then I get extremely itchy, very red skin. The only thing that helps are antihistamines or warmth (like a warm wheat bag). Early mornings and night times are worst even on warm days. I once went for an ocean swim on a hot day and came out of the water shivering, burning, bright red, and extremely itchy (I wasn't sunburned). All I could do was snuggle into a tightly wrapped towel and sit in the sun until it subsided (about 20 mins). I had an episode at work when I was in a food freezer for too long (5-10 mins). I had a thick coat on but when I came out, my arms and legs were starting to burn with cold, became increasingly red and uncontrollably itchy.Then my heart started racing and I became jittery. The scratching brought blood on my arms. A quick trip to the pharmacy for some antihistamines (Telfast Green 180gm) and I was starting to feel better after about 30 mins. Bit scary, and can't help wonder what would happen if I got caught out without medication or stuck in the cold :( Anything less than 180gm Antihistamine doesn't work for me. My GP thinks it was originally brought on by an allergy. Now that I'm going through menopause, it's getting worse.
Danny Profile
Danny answered
I am told that some people are allergic to lightning.
~Darren~ ~BigBoySly~ Profile
Women  allergic  to  their  husbands  sperm  and  can't  conceive to  have  children  cause of  this  disorder
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
I have pressure induced urticaria (dermatographism) any light pressure causes welts. Haha just like the article said.  Great party trick, but not worth the pain and itching afterward! My bra even effects it.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Well, one of the weirdest allergies is "Agoraphobia", which is basically allergy of everyting because of fear.

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