Mum can’t wear jeans or a bra without breaking out in hives due to rare allergy

A mum with a rare allergy to pressure on her skin is unable to wear jeans or a bra without breaking out in hives – and even had an allergic reaction to her wedding dress.

Stephanie Harvey thought she was allergic to latex because she’d come up in an itchy red rash, seemingly randomly.

But it turned out the mum-of-two has a condition called pressure urticaria – an allergy to pressure on her skin which she first noticed symptoms for in summer of 2020.

The condition means she has an allergic reaction to basic things, including wearing jeans, socks or a bra – and she can’t even shower without having an allergic reaction.

Her low point was when she had an allergic reaction to her own wedding dress – and she even comes out in blisters whenever she wears her wedding ring.

Stephanie, a 34-year-old carer from Angus, Scotland, takes super-strength antihistamines.

Now she wants to educate others who may be experiencing the same allergic reactions without knowing why.

She said: “I’ve always had issues with my skin as a kid and was back and forwards with a GP about it.

“I thought I had a latex allergy – so I was shocked when they suggested what it could be. I had never even heard of it.

“The condition is just horrible. Sometimes it’s itchy, like there are bugs crawling all over my skin.
“Other times it’s an awful burning pain that doesn’t go away.

“I’m on medication for life now but it’s the simple things that you take for granted that I can’t do – wearing jeans or a bra, having a shower, wearing a hairband on your wrist.

“The worst was at my wedding – it was horrendous, I was covered in hives.

“I can’t wear my wedding ring either and I am devastated because it was the ring I was married with, I don’t want to go and buy a new one as it won’t mean the same to me.

“I have to live with this so the best thing I can do is make other people aware of it so they notice the symptoms and get treatment sooner.”

Stephanie’s horror began in 2020 when her skin started reacting to seemingly random things, which she put down to latex.

She had assumed she just had sensitive skin and prickly heat, but she began getting irritating and raised bumps which would sometimes feel like she was “on fire “.

She grew more desperate for answers following her wedding to husband Jamie Harvey, 33, in the summer of 2020 when she had an allergic reaction to her dress and ring.

Stephanie said: “My wedding night was horrendous. I was covered in hives – I thought it was weird that my dress had latex in it.

“I was left with blisters where I had my wedding band on too.”

She went to a dermatologist the following year and was eventually diagnosed with pressure urticaria.

To make matters worse, she is also allergic to the sun – known as polymorphic light eruption – which also causes skin flare ups.

She is also unable to do many everyday things – such as wear jeans, take a shower, and carry her shopping bags from the car – without being left in agony.

Once after being knocked into and catching her leg on the corner of a chair, she was left with a painful hematoma the size of a grapefruit.

She said: “It feels like something is crawling all over you all the time.

“Showering was a task I didn’t expect to struggle with but the pressure of the water hitting my skin leaves me with red blotches.

“Even small things like leaving a hairband around my wrist leaves me clawing at my hands.

“I can’t wear whatever I want any more – I used to live in jeans but now I can’t, and underwired bras are off limits.”

She added: “Gym clothes are so tight that it feels like bugs are crawling on me all day.”

“It’s tiring having to think about what I can and can’t wear or do it all the time.”

She is now prescribed with super-strength antihistamines she has to take daily, as well as extra treatments to help deal with flare-ups.

The conditions are now well managed – but she’ll have to deal with them for life.

Stephanie wants to warn other people who might be feeling exasperated dealing with similar symptoms and be as desperate for answers as she was.

She said: “I had no idea what it was when I was diagnosed, I’d never heard of it before.

“As soon as I knew, I was able to search it online and get some more information about it to help me understand.

“You never think you’ll get any conditions like this, until it happens to you.”