Cold urticaria is a skin disorder caused by a reaction to cold temperatures. When skin is exposed to the cold and then warms up, it causes itching, hives, red skin and swelling on the hands, face and mouth.
Those with cold urticaria generally experience symptoms within minutes, when they are exposed to temperatures below 49 degrees. Warm, damp and windy weather may also cause symptoms for some. A common form of full body cold urticaria occurs after swimming in cold temperatures. Other causes can be from cold drinks and foods or from holding cold objects. Cold urticaria typically affects young adults and can clear up within a few years.
For temporary relief, you can try over-the-counter antihistamines, wear protective clothing and avoid cold food, drinks, temperatures and water. A specialist can help control your cold urticaria by prescribing antihistamines and Xolair (Omalizumab) injections. Antihistamines block the histamine release in the body, while Xolair has been proven to treat asthma and cold urticaria.
If you are experiencing symptoms of cold urticaria, schedule an appointment with an Allergist. They will test your skin by placing an ice cube on your forearm for five minutes and then remove it. After your skin warms up for ten minutes they will be able to see what type of reaction your skin had. Until you can get in to see a specialist, be sure to keep a list of symptoms and how long they last, what you were exposed to, any recent illnesses you may have had and any other health conditions. You do not have to suffer from the symptoms of cold urticaria!