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Meet the Woman Allergic to Her Own Sweat (Seriously)


Lots of people have allergies—think dust and cat dander, for example, two super-common allergens. And these allergies can cause a slew of reactions, including stuffy noses, itchy eyes, and rashes. Happily, these are conditions we can control for, for the most part. (Keep your house clean! Avoid cats!) But what if you were allergic to something your very own body produced? That's exactly the case with 28-year-old Florida native Julie Reid, who was diagnosed with cholinergic urticaria three years ago. Reid is allergic to the sweat her own body produces.

This is especially tough for Reid, as she's a both a gymnastics and a dance instructor. Both of which, as you can imagine, can cause one to sweat a bit. (Have you ever tried a round-off triple-back handspring?) What's worse, though, is that cholinergic urticaria causes painful, itchy hives as a reaction to sweating, whether from exercise or from hot or intense conditions, says Robert Schwartz, M.D. And because of the hives, which Reid has described as grotesque, she's gained 100 pounds, according to reports.

And it's not just the physical effects; cholinergic urticaria is causing her mental anguish, too. On her blog, Reid wrote that "You don't realize how much your body sweats until you become allergic to it. I would say it's one step shy of being allergic to breathing or blinking."

While the condition can be treated with antihistamines, Reid doesn't have health insurance to afford the doctor visits. However, she's hoping to bring her disease a bit more into the spotlight, and hopes very much for a cure to come along.