This Woman Can’t Drink Alcohol Without Developing A Burning Red Rash Over Her Entire Body

A former self-proclaimed party animal has reinvented herself as a fitness fanatic after discovering that booze can trigger an allergic reaction which sees her coated in a burning red rash.

One person who knows the benefits of cutting back on alcohol all too well is 42-year-old Cass Bowman.

In her younger years, she loved nothing more than hitting the town for a few drinks with her friends.

Cass showing her allergic reaction (PA Real Life/Collect)

But all that changed around eight years ago, when she suddenly began to suffer a mysterious reaction to alcohol that would see her skin become red and blotchy.

Over time, it worsened to the point where her flesh felt as if it had been “scalded,” and her breathing became affected too.

Cass, of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, who works with children, said:

“It can spring up anywhere on my body, and my skin gets so hot I can’t even touch it. Before all this, I was quite a party animal. I’d go out weekdays and weekends, downing pints and all sorts.”

Cass back when she was able to drink more (PA Real Life/Collect)

On an average night, Cass would have around 10 drinks, a mix of spirits, cider and lager.  And, for a big celebration, it would be even more.

She said:

“Now, I’ve cut right back to only having a few vodkas or gins every so often. That seems to have done the trick for now, but if this comes back and makes my breathing worse, I’ll have no choice but to quit drinking altogether.”

“As big a part of socializing as it is, I couldn’t live with knowing I was putting myself in danger.”

Cass showing her allergic reaction (PA Real Life/Collect)

In her twenties and early thirties, Cass, who has three children, Alex, 18, Oliver, 17 and Ellisia, 13, enjoyed many a night out with friends, and never found alcohol to cause an adverse reaction.

Then, in around 2011, she noticed that she’d start to feel warm on the top half of her body and legs when she’d had a drink.

Still, she wasn’t especially worried, until odd marks soon began to spring up on her skin all over her body, including her face.

Cass completing a half marathon (PA Real Life/Collect)

She said:

“It was almost like a burn. My skin wouldn’t be raised, like it would with a rash, but it’d be hot to touch and feel sensitive for days afterwards.”

“Putting cold water on it wouldn’t help, as it just heated up.”

“When it would happen, people would really stare, which would make me feel embarrassed and put a dampener on the night.”

Cass and her husband Stuart (PA Real Life/Collect)

At first, Cass, who is married to Stuart, 45, admitted that she didn’t put two and two together, assuming the reaction was down to skin products or washing powder she was using.

But, when it didn’t stop even after she changed products, she started keeping a closer eye on what exactly set her off—and after a few months, realized it only ever happened when she had been drinking.

She said:

“I went to the doctor in around 2012, and he agreed that it was something in alcohol causing an allergic reaction.”

“He then said to me to stop drinking.”

Cass continued:

“I know it might sound silly, but it was such a big part of my life then – it was how I socialized with my friends. I worried I would lose all of that, so I tried to just press on and put up with it.”

“I could never figure out a set trigger. If it was one particular type of alcohol, I’d have avoided that, but there was no pattern to it.”

But then, around two years later, Cass began to also experience shortness of breath, which would come on immediately after the rash and affect her for a few hours afterwards.

Cass showing her allergic reaction (PA Real Life/Collect)

At her worst, she said she even struggled to speak properly.

Again, she sought medical help and a different doctor prescribed antihistamines to help calm the reaction whenever she suffers a flare-up.

Though the National Health Service recommends avoiding alcohol whilst taking antihistamines as it can make you feel sleepy, Cass takes non-drowsy tablets, and so said she has not had any adverse effects.

Cass before running a Pretty Muddy race (PA Real Life/Collect)

She has also cut down on drinking hugely, now only enjoying around five vodkas or gins on the odd weekend.

For the past year, Cass has not had an allergic reaction—which she believes is down to both drinking less and exercising much more.

She began running almost by accident after she suffered an unrelated hip injury during a Zumba class in 2012, and the physiotherapist who treated her suggested running would help keep her strength up once she had recovered.

Cass showing her allergic reaction (PA Real Life/Collect)

Now Cass runs 10km at least three times a week, getting up at 5:30am to pound the streets, and has completed two half-marathons—with three more planned for 2019 – as well as a 10km and several 5km races.

The picture of health, she is sharing her story to encourage others struggling with painful reactions to seek medical help, and said:

“My reactions were so unpredictable. I wouldn’t get them every time I drank, but they could come on out of nowhere—especially if I’d drank a couple of nights in a row.”

“Now, though, I’m feeling much healthier and really hope that’s the end of it. Of course, if I have another, and my breathing is still affected, I will have no choice but to give up alcohol completely. For now, though, I’m enjoying running, cutting back on drinking and feeling great.”

Cass on her 40th birthday (PA Real Life/Collect)

Abbas Kanani, pharmacist at Chemist Click, said:

“If you are experiencing symptoms such as wheezing, sneezing, coughing, itchy skin or feeling sick when you drink small amounts of alcohol, my advice would be to get an allergy test.”

“Explain your symptoms to your GP who can organize this for you. In the meantime, it’s best to avoid alcoholic beverages altogether, as there is a possibility that they could cause a severe reaction which can be quite serious.”

“If you do have a confirmed allergy to alcohol, it’s best to give up altogether. It seems quite tough, but I see an increased number of people wishing to give up alcohol for good these days, in search of a healthier lifestyle.”