The cooling of the weather can bring some problems with people who are prone to allergies. Cold urticaria known as cold allergy; occurs with exposure to cold air and the effects can be serious. President of Allergy and Asthma Association and Pediatric Allergy Specialist Prof. Dr. Ahmet Akçay explained the details about cold urticaria. What is a cold allergy? What are the symptoms diagnosis and treatment methods?
What is cold urticaria?
Cold allergy, cold urticaria, is a skin reaction that occurs a few minutes after exposure to cold. Itching develops in the affected area. People with cold urticaria experience very different symptoms. Some people have minor reactions to cold, while others have severe reactions. For some people with this condition, swimming in cold water can cause very low blood pressure, fainting, or shock. Urticaria is the most common allergic skin disease in children. It is also known as hives or urticaria and sometimes develops due to cold.
Cold Allergy Symptoms
Symptoms of cold urticaria begin immediately after the skin has been exposed to a sudden drop in air temperature or cold water. Humid and windy conditions can increase the likelihood of symptoms flaring. The worst reactions usually occur with full skin exposure, such as swimming in cold water. Such a reaction can cause loss of consciousness and suffocation. Symptoms of cold urticaria can vary in severity from person to person. Symptoms of a cold allergy can include:
- Temporary reddish, itchy spots (hives) in the skin area exposed to cold,
- The reaction worsens as the skin gets warmer.
- Swelling of the hands when handling cold objects,
- Swelling of the lips when consuming cold food or drinks,
- Severe cold allergy reactions include:
- Whole-body response (anaphylaxis), which can cause fainting, heart palpitations, swelling of the limbs or trunk, and shock
- Swelling of the tongue and throat that can make breathing difficult.
Diagnosing Cold Urticaria
When diagnosing cold urticaria, family history and examination findings are taken first. Cold urticaria can be diagnosed by placing an ice cube on the skin for five minutes. If you have cold urticaria, a raised, red lump (hive) forms a few minutes after the ice cube is removed. The ice cube test is generally a conclusive test. In cases where the ice test is not sufficient, some blood tests can be performed to find the underlying causes for differential diagnosis. For the diagnosis and treatment of cold allergies, it will be beneficial for children up to the age of 18 to be done by pediatric allergists and those over 18 by adult allergy specialists.
The Harms of Cold Urticaria
Cold urticaria can be seen in areas that the body touches or in all areas. Cold urticaria can sometimes have important and critical consequences. Swimming, especially in cold water, can cause confusion, low blood pressure and loss of consciousness. That's why it's important for people with cold urticaria not to swim in cold water. Otherwise, these symptoms occurring in the water can cause situations such as drowning.
Cold Allergy Prevention Ways
- Protect your skin from cold or sudden temperature changes. If you are going to go swimming, first dip your hand in the water and get your body accustomed to the water. Before going swimming, talk to your allergist and, if necessary, take antihistamine medication under the supervision of a doctor.
- To prevent your throat from swelling, avoid ice-cold drinks and foods. After contact with the cold, throat and tongue, it can cause swelling and breathing problems.
- If your doctor has prescribed an epinephrine auto injector, take it with you to avoid serious reactions and watch the expiration date of this drug.
- If you are going to have surgery, talk to your surgeon ahead of time about your cold urticaria. The surgical team can take steps to help prevent cold-related symptoms in the operating room.