Meet the toddler who is allergic to her own tears

Ivy Angerman is allergic to water.
Ivy Angerman is allergic to water.  Photo: GoFundMe

Eighteen-month-old Ivy Angerman is unlike any other child her age - she is allergic to water. 

When the Minnesota toddler has a bath, sweats, or cries, she breaks out in an itchy, red rash. The little girl was recently diagnosed with a rare condition called Aquagenic Urticaria, (AU) something that usually develops during puberty. As such, doctors believe Ivy may be the youngest person to have been diagnosed with the disorder.

"As a father it absolutely breaks your heart," Ivy's father, Dan Angerman, told local news station Fox 9. 

Ivy's mother, Brittany Angerman, worries about what the condition will mean for Ivy's future. "I thought about, is she ever going to be able to go to daycare?" she says. "Is she ever going to be able to go to public school? Is she going to be able to ever go in the ocean?

"I just hope that someday she can drink water and be able to live a somewhat normal life."

Ms Angerman told Metro that she will have to help her daughter learn how to manage her emotions - without tears.

"I'm going to have to teach her to not cry and try to hide it or bring it out in some other way," she said. "It's really hard, it breaks my heart, everything about it makes me upset."

The family now bathe Ivy only once a week. "Her skin looks like she's getting washed in bleach," Ms Angerman says. "I'm effectively washing my daughter in bleach."

18-month-old Ivy is allergic to water.

18-month-old Ivy is allergic to water. Photo: Go Fund Me

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Because AU is so rare there is very limited information on the effectiveness of treatments for the condition. In fact, fewer than 100 cases have been reported in the literature, according to a case report in Annals of Dermatology

For now, medication provides some relief.

"We have her on antihistamines which seem to be helping the severity of the reactions," Mr Angerman says. Doctors have also told the couple to purify Ivy's water and to use central airconditioning to prevent overheating, something their home doesn't have.

The family have established a Go Fund Me Account to raise money for research and medical costs.

"My name is Ivy Lynn and I am one-and-a-half years old," her page reads. "When I was about a year old I started to have random allergic reactions after bath time ... Unfortunately we live in a very old house and the water isn't the best here either. Now my family and I are going to have to find a new home with a well, a purified water system, and central air, as this would greatly limit the severity of my reactions.

"Any, and all, donations we receive will be used to provide me with the best care possible and to help cover research and medical expenses."

Ms Angerman told Metro that they are taking each day as it comes. "We want to try and buy [Ivy] a water purifier which we hope could make the reaction less intense for her," she says. "Eventually we will think about moving somewhere that is not as wet too."

While the cause of AU is unknown, according to the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Centre (GARD), there are two main theories:

  • A substance dissolved in water enters the skin and triggers an immune response. In this scenario, the rash isn't caused by water, rather an allergen in the water. 
  • An interaction between water and a substance found in or on the skin generates a toxic material, which results in a rash.

You can make a donation to Ivy's Go Fund Me account here.