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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Aquagenic urticaria

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What is aquagenic urticaria?

How might aquagenic urticaria be treated?

What is aquagenic urticaria?

Aquagenic urticaria is characterized by itchy white or red lumps that occur after direct contact with water, regardless of its temperature. It more commonly affects women and symptoms often start around the onset of puberty. It can occur alone or in association with other forms of urticaria. It can affect the whole or portions of the body. The cause of aquagenic urticaria is currently unknown.[1][2][3][4]
Last updated: 12/19/2011

How might aquagenic urticaria be treated?

Due to the rarity of aquagenic urticaria there is very limited data regarding the effectiveness of individual treatments. Below we have listed treatments that have been tried with variable success.[1][2][3][4] We encourage you to discuss your treatment options with a healthcare provider.

Antihistamines (e.g., desloratadine, hydroxyzine)
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI)
Oil-in-water emulsion skin cream
Water-resistant sun block
Ultraviolet therapy
Psoralen/ultraviolet A (PUVA) therapy
Ultraviolet B and antihistamine combination therapy

You can learn more about these treatments at the following links:

The New Zealand Dermatological Society, Inc. provides information on emollients and PUVA therapy at the following links:

The Consumers Union of the US provides information on antihistamine drugs at the following link:

The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research provides information on anticholingergics and on SSRI at the following links:

Logical Images provides information on phototherapy at the following link.

More information on desloratadine and hydroxyzine can be found at the following links from MedlinePlus, the National Library of Medicine Web site designed to help you research your health questions.

Last updated: 12/19/2011

  1. ST Yavuz, UM Sahiner, A Tuncer, C Sackesen. . Aquagenic urticaria in two adolescents. J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol . 2010; Vol. 20(7): 620-632; Accessed 12/19/2011.
  2. Baptist AP, Baldwin JL. Aquagenic urticaria with extracutaneous manifestations. Allergy Asthma Proc. 2005 May-Jun;26(3):217-20; Accessed 12/19/2011.
  3. Bayle P, Gadroy A, Messer L, Bazex J. Localized aquagenic urticaria: efficacy of a barrier cream. Contact Dermatitis. 2003 Sep;49(3):160-1; Accessed 12/19/2011.
  4. Luong KV, Nguyen LT. Aquagenic urticaria: report of a case and review of the literature. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 1998 Jun;80(6):483-5; Accessed 12/19/2011.

See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.