The woman who is so allergic to water that she can't even kiss her fianc
For most couples Valentine's Day is a chance to get down to some serious smooching.
But for Rachel Prince and fianc Lee Warwick, kissing is off the agenda tomorrow – or any day soon – due to her rare allergy to water.
The condition, called aquagenic urticaria, means even a few spots of saliva from Mr Warwick, 26, would bring Miss Prince out in horrible hives.
The allergy also means the 24-year-old, Ripley, Derbyshire, cannot go for a swim, enjoy long baths or even drink a cold glass of water as her throat swells up whenever she takes a sip.
I'll just take the flowers: Poor Rachel Prince can't even kiss her fiance Lee Warwick due to a rare allergy to water
Ouch: Even a few drops of Mr Warwick's saliva is enough to bring Miss Prince out in a painful, itchy rash due to her 'aquagenic urticaria' condition, which is known to affect only 35 people worldwide
Miss Prince said: 'It does get me down because obviously I want that intimacy and that closeness. But if Lee even gives me a kiss on the cheek I have to wipe it off straight away before the reaction comes up.
'It's a bit depressing not being able to
kiss, but Lee makes up for it in other ways by being affectionate and
buying me little gifts.'
The allergy is not all bad however and gets Miss Prince out of doing the dishes and the washing.
She added: 'We'd like to have kids someday but it's something we would have to consider carefully as I wouldn't be able to take care of all the washing and cleaning.
…Of course, it's not all bad: Miss Prince's condition means she gets neatly out of doing the dishes and the washing
WHAT IS AQUAGENIC URTICARIA
A person with Aquagenic Urticaria is essentially allergic to water.
coming into contact with water – or blood, sweat and tears – the
sufferer develops painful, itchy hives that spread over the affected
These can last anywhere between 10 minutes to an hour-and-a-half.
Some sufferers have to lie down to let the pain subside.
believe the hives are not caused by a histamine release but are the
result of extreme skin sensitivity to additives in water such as
The condition is extremely rare and is thought to affect around 35 known people in the world.
is no proven treatment, but dermatologists recommend staying out of the
water as much as possible. Sufferers should also take short showers, stay
cool and avoid rain.
Dermatologists say those with the condition can ease the burn of the hives with certain antihistamines.
'Plus, I would hate to pass this onto my child and with it being so rare no one is able to say whether I would or not.'
Miss Prince, who does not work due to cubital tunnel syndrome, which affects the use of both her arms, met Mr Warwick online ten years ago and they became a couple on Valentine's Day in 2007.
Valentine's Day holds a special significance for the couple as it was also the day Mr Warwick proposed at Codnor Castle, near their home.
But when the pair get in front of the altar in the near future, the wedding party cannot expect a showy public display of affection when the groom is invited to kiss the bride.
Miss Prince said: 'He'll be getting a tiny peck on the lips, if that.'
Office temp Mr Warwick added: 'Sometimes I look at her and I really want to kiss her but I know I can't.
'I do sometimes get a bit fed up. I have to do most of the housework so I'm basically Rachel's slave and I don't even get a kiss at the end of it.
'But I don't mind really, she's worth it.'
Miss Prince is allergic to her own tears, saliva, sweat and blood. Even the briefest contact with moisture leaves her skin covered in a red, angry rash and unsightly hives.
She first noticed the allergy at the age of 12 and it has gradually worsened over the years since then.
She said: 'As I got older, it became a proper rash whenever I was in contact with water. It burns and it itches, it feels like my skin is on fire.
'It covers my face, chest and arms and recently I have noticed it on my legs as well.
used to love swimming and I learned how to swim in the sea so I would
love nothing more than to be able to have a paddle while on holiday, but
I can't even do that.'
the condition is so rare, affecting just a handful of people worldwide,
Miss Prince often gets strange reactions from people when they first
hear she is allergic to water.
Painful puddle: Miss Prince, 24, cannot go for a swim, enjoy long baths or even drink a cold glass of water as her throat swells up whenever she takes a sip
She said: 'I think people are quite sceptical or don't believe me. No one has ever heard of it. I've even had doctors tell me that you can't be allergic to water. But I know my own body and I don't care what people believe.
Miss Prince added that she gets bombarded with 'stupid questions' from people curious about the allergy.
'They say, “how do I wash” The answer is very quickly. When I have a bath I am only in it for a few minutes at the most and then when I get out the rash is so itchy and painful I have to lie down afterwards for some time, it just totally drains me.
'I carry an umbrella everywhere and I try to judge when it's likely to rain, in which case I just stay in. When I go out I have a coat with a huge hood on it like Kenny from South Park, just in case.
'Another thing I get asked is how can I be allergic to water when my body has water in it. I don't know, but I know I'm allergic to sweat and tears – even my own blood.
'When I drink water, it feels like my throat is closing up and it's very uncomfortable. Fruit juice and tea is not so bad for some reason, but obviously that has water in it too.'
Miss Prince has even been stared at in restaurants when she's sat down after being caught in the rain.