Mum, 30, with allergy to sun and water says life during summer is a ‘nightmare’

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A mum-of-two who is allergic to sunlight and water has told how summer is a nightmare for her.

Elissa, 30, was diagnosed with polymorphic light eruption after noticing some rashes on her skin on holiday.

The woman, from Scotland, said once, after spending a full day outdoors, she developed a rash on her arms and hands.

Initially she thought it was prickly heat, but when she visited Greece for a summer break, the rash started spreading all over her body.

Elissa said: “My hands and feet were so swollen I could barely walk and the pain was unbearable, like sunburn but 100 times worse.”

When Elissa returned to the UK, she saw a doctor and was diagnosed with allergy to sunlight.

The main symptom of polymorphic light eruption is an itchy or burning rash that appears within hours, or up to two to three days after exposure to sunlight.

The rash is usually on the parts of the skin exposed to sunlight, typically the head, neck, chest and arms.

Elissa said living with the condition was quite difficult at first, as she had to change some of her habits and needed to wear sunscreen from February to November.

She explained: “There was no treatment available, so I just had to cover up completely and wear SPF 50 from February to November.

“It’s quite an ordeal, but I got used to living with it, and thankfully it wasn’t so bad in the winter.”

Over the past few years, she also saw her skin breaking out in hives every time she was in water.

She thought it was due to her shower gel, but even after changing it, she was still experiencing the same symptoms.

The mum-of-two said: “Soon having a shower was bringing out the whole of my upper body in a rash that burnt terribly and itched like mad.”

Her GP then referred her to a specialist and she was diagnosed with aquagenic urticaria – an allergy to water.

The rare condition most commonly affects women and symptoms often start around the onset of puberty.

To date, no large-scale studies have been conducted into the condition, meaning there is no specific treatment for it.

Elissa said: “No matter what the temperature of the water, I break out every time.

“Thankfully I can drink water as the condition doesn’t affect me internally.

“I make my washes as quick as possible and can no longer have a relaxing bath – which is upsetting because I have rheumatoid arthritis, which I use crutches for and sometimes a wheelchair.”

Despite her allergies, Elissa is determined to keep a positive attitude for her daughters Lily, seven, and Katie, three, who are both healthy.

Elissa said: “I don’t want them to look back on their childhood and remember me as always suffering and sore, so I put my energy into making the best memories, like turning out living room into an enchanted unicorn forest, having an indoor beach party, holding a rave in our back garden with a disco dome bouncy castle and encouraging my girls to dress up.

“Lily did a weekly shop in a T-rex outfit and Katie became Boris Johnson for the day!”

Elissa has also been put forward for research for her sun allergy and hopes this will help other people who develop similar conditions.

Elissa and her daughters regularly share their dressing up and funny skits on their YouTube channel.