10 Extremely Unusual Allergies

Person wearing a face mask surrounded by allergen like citrus fruit, nuts, eggs, and tomatoes.
Photo: Dmytro Zinkevych/Shutterstock

Peanuts, wheat, mold — these days, it seems like everyone is allergic to something. But while the aforementioned offenders are fairly run-of-the-mill, some people have truly atypical allergies. Everything from water to exercise can trigger severe physical reactions. Read on to learn about 10 of the most unusual.

This article originally appeared on WomansDay.com and is republished here with permission.

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Photo: Steven Depolo/Flickr [CC by 2.0]

It seems like the most innocuous substance around, but believe it or not, some people are actually allergic to water. Aquagenic urticaria is a rare condition in which water of any temperature causes intensely itchy and painful hives on the skin. An effective treatment hasn't been found, making regular activities — like showering and swimming — extremely difficult.

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Photo: Juan Antonio Segal/Flickr [CC by 2.0]

Talk about killing the mood! Known as human seminal plasma hypersensitivity, this condition involves a negative physical reaction to a man's seminal fluid (the liquid that carries sperm). Symptoms include hives, swelling and trouble breathing. The good news? Treatment is available, and can include simply using condoms or exposure therapy (a.k.a. spending plenty of time between the sheets to get desensitized to the reaction).

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Photo: Fit Approach/Flickr [CC by SA-2.0]

Though it might seem like a great excuse to avoid the gym, anyone suffering from an exercise allergy will tell you it's not as convenient as it sounds. Symptoms of this condition—which is called exercise-induced anaphylaxis and urticaria––can range from hives and gastrointestinal problems to life-threatening anaphylaxis. Treatment options include abstaining from physical activity and taking medications like antihistamines and mast cell stabilizers.

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Photo: Guillaume Cattiaux/Flickr [CC by SA-2.0]

Much more than the occasional sunburn, a sun allergy is an immune system reaction to sunlight that often manifests itself as an itchy rash, headache and nausea, but can also cause symptoms as severe as blisters and bleeding under the skin. In extreme cases, just a few minutes of sun exposure can cause a reaction, making it essential for those affected to stay out of the sun and protect their skin with sunscreen.

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Photo: Yutaka Tsutano/Flickr [CC by 2.0]

It's hard to avoid technology these days — smartphones, Wi-Fi and flat-screen TVs are seemingly everywhere. But what if you had to steer clear? People suffering from electrosensitivity experience a plethora of physical ailments — including migraines, rashes and chest pains — when they're near anything that creates an electromagnetic field. Electrosensitive people must be vigilant about keeping their home free of things like cell phones and microwaves, and avoid places that might trigger a reaction. A group of sufferers has even moved to an area of southern France that is completely free of electromagnetic fields.

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Photo: Ali/Flickr [CC by ND-2.0]

Here's one aversion that many women wish they had: a shoe allergy. That's right, plenty of people experience physical symptoms from footwear that range from inflammation to painfully cracked skin caused by the glues, resins and other materials that go into making shoes. And sweat just aggravates the situation. To feel better, people with shoe allergies often find footwear through a trial-and-error process or are vigilant about wearing socks to limit their contact with the offending materials.

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Photo: Deman/Shutterstock

Like shoes, it turns out underwear contains chemicals and fabrics that can cause skin irritations in ultra-sensitive folks. The latex and rubber in the waistbands as well as chemicals used to treat the fabrics are often the culprits. To avoid skin reactions, affected people look for undergarments without offending materials. Cottonique, an allergy-free apparel company, has plenty of pieces that sit just fine with allergy sufferers.

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Photo: LongitudeLatitude/Flickr [CC by 2.0]

Some people couldn't live without chocolate, but others can't live with it. Rare as the condition is, chocolate can trigger an allergic reaction, including headaches, hives or difficulty breathing. Because chocolate is made up of a variety of ingredients, it's not always the cocoa that's to blame — milk, nut traces and soy lecithin can also be triggers.

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Photo: Natasha de Vere & Col Ford/Flickr [CC by 2.0]

You may say you're sick of winter, but for some people, that's literally true. Be it from cold air outdoors, air conditioning or cold water, when the mercury plummets, affected folks experience redness, itching and swelling, and in severe cases, fainting, shock and death. While there's no cure for cold urticaria, there are certain medications that can help.

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All food and drink – except water

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Australian Kaleb Bussenschutt has a condition that's so rare there isn't even a name for it. If he ingests anything aside from water, ice and one specific brand of lemonade, he has severe and painful stomach problems, including vomiting and stomach ulcers that have put him in the hospital. To get the nutrients he needs, Bussenschutt is fed formula 20 hours a day through a tube, and has to maintain an amazing amount of self-control around real food