While grass, pollen, and mold are a few of the most common allergy causes, some people's reactions can be more complicated. In some rare cases, an allergic reaction can even be triggered by an unusual combination of events or factors. This means you and your doctor may need to play detective in order to determine what's leading to your uncomfortable symptoms.

Factors That Lead to Unusual Allergies

Here are three unusual allergic reactions that can be worth considering. While these experiences certainly aren't very typical, it's possible that you or someone you know could experience something similar.

Unusual Allergy Cause #1: Water

Experts have recently come to recognize that water can trigger a rare allergic reaction. For people who are prone to the problem, using a new makeup or skin product can irritate ultra sensitive skin and make them more susceptible. There's also been at least one report of someone developing a water allergy after going through the changes that come with having a baby. The symptoms of a water allergy include rash, hives, and blisters. A similar type of unusual allergic reaction can also be caused by extreme changes in air temperature and weather conditions, or to water that's very hot or very cold.

What You Can Do: While you can't avoid all water or temperature changes, if you suffer from this condition you'll need to limit bathing and avoid certain drinks. It's also a good idea to steer clear of places with dramatic changes in air and water temperature. When you do experience mild discomfort, an antihistamine may help to treat the itchiness.

Unusual Allergy Cause #2: Cell Phones

It's your immune system's call as to whether you'll be one of the many people who experience allergy symptoms from cell phones or iPods. This is usually caused by a reaction to nickel. Some of the signs of a cell phone allergy include an itchy rash, red bumps, and dry or irritated patches on your skin near where an iPod or cell phone touches. Perspiration from holding the phone against your face  can worsen your symptoms. The problem usually results in people who have worn nickel jewelry over an extended period of time, causing their bodies to become overly sensitized. There have also been a few reports of people with nickel tongue rings who have suddenly become sensitized to shrimp, causing a serious food allergy reaction. Why the two factors seem to co-exist isn't quite clear yet.

What You Can Do: The best way to avoid allergies to your cell phone and other metal-containing devices is to limit yourself to nickel-free jewelry whenever possible. If you do experience skin ailments from nickel items, your doctor may recommend a corticosteroid cream and antihistamines to help with the itchiness. If the reaction is severe, you may also need oral corticosteroids. Keep in mind that a nickel allergy can last for a few weeks. If you have a tongue piercing, you should also be on the lookout for any new symptoms that occur when you eat shrimp or other foods. When in doubt, always seek medical attention to protect yourself and to rule out a life-threatening reaction.

Unusual Allergy Cause #3: Exercise

You probably exercise control of your seasonal allergy symptoms before you hit the track or the gym. But if you're allergic to the act of exercising itself, the problem can be more complicated. Some people may experience nasal allergy symptoms when they exercise, while others might suffer from a rare condition called exercise-induced anaphylaxis, which causes a life threatening reaction. In the latter event, the symptoms include hives, swelling, wheezing, itching, difficulty breathing, and a drop in blood pressure. While the medical community doesn't understand fully how or why an allergy to exercise occurs, they do believe that for some people, experiencing exercise-induced anaphylaxis could be related to certain foods they eat including peanuts, shellfish, and celery.

What You Can Do: If you're at risk for experiencing exercise-induced anaphylaxis, you don't have to become a couch potato, but you will need to take this condition seriously and put some important preventative steps into place before engaging in any type of strenuous activity.  Always carry an EpiPen® with you when you exercise and designate an exercise partner who knows how to use it in the event that an emergency occurs. If your reaction may be related to food, always avoid eating for a minimum of two hours before and after exercise. Also, modulate your activity level and allow enough time to warm up and cool down before and after your workout, since these strategies can help to prevent exercise-induced anaphylaxis.




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"Ask the Expert: Exercise-Induced Anaphylaxis." American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. AAAAI.org, n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2011.

"Foods That Affect Your Seasonal Allergies." ABC News Medical Unit. ABCNews.com, 6 April 2009. Web. 18 Sept. 2011.

Steinman, Howard and Greaves, Malcolm. "Aquagenic pruritus." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 13 (1) (July 1985):91-96. Web. 28 Sept. 2011.

"Two Cents about Nickel." American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. AAAAI.org, Feb. 2011. Web. 28 Sept. 2011.