Allergic to Cold Temperatures

One of my claims to fame is being a freak of nature.  I am allergic to cold temperatures. **pause**  Did you just laugh?

That’s what I’ve dealt with my entire life.  Whenever I’m at the doctors and tell them I’m allergic to cold temperatures I get a hearty chuckle and they say they are too.  I have to stop them and correct them and tell them while it is funny I really AM allergic to cold temperatures.  It may not be a medicine but generally it’s one the docs should know so I list it.

I can’t tell you how many times I had to prove my allergy as a kid to my classmates and friend’s parents because they didn’t believe me.  If you are curious to easily prove this allergy you can grab an ice cube and hold it against your skin and you get hives.  Fun times I assure you but it usually was the only think to stop the mocking.

It is also a deadly disease for me although I haven’t managed to die yet from it.  The worst thing for me seems to be cold water and as a kid I didn’t want to be different and only swim for a few minutes so I’d stay in a cold pool in those early June days far longer than I should have and twice it was close to killing me.  The first time I was at the local pool and got out during the requisite break and got in line for snacks.  By the time I’d got to the front of the line I’d lost my vision.  To this day it still freaks me out a bit to think of.  Suddenly I was blind and all I could see were neon highlights were things were raised.  I begged the snack lady to call the paramedics and passed out.  The next thing I recalled was them asking for my Mom’s number (she was at the bar, that’s another story for another day) and then the paramedics were there and were totally clueless what to do besides warm me up.  When I was warmed up I was ok.

The other time I think was the same summer and I was in a cold pool and stayed in far too long again.  By the time I got out I passed out again and I came to in the shower.  My Dad was on the phone with Elizabeth City (the closest hospital to us, over an hour away) and they had no idea how to deal with my allergy either.  They told my Dad to have my Mom strip down (she was the bigger of the two) and me and wrap us both up together in a blanket for body heat.  I remember vaguely being weirded out by that LOL.  Eventually though it worked and my Dad would later say that he truly thought I was going to die.  I guess it was pretty close for a while there and he knew that we wouldn’t make the hospital.

After those incidents I got a dose of reality and realized I needed to pay attention to my hives more and stop whatever I was doing when I got them.  It sucked though and even though I still could play in the snow a bit it was never for as long as I would hope for.

Here’s the kicker: generally if you have this allergy as a kid YOU GROW OUT OF IT!  As an adult with this allergy you generally acquired it secondary to an infection or mutated gene.  So I’m a double freak of nature because while I have the childhood allergy that I never grew out of, I have some of the factors of the other form of “cold allergy” called FCAS.  I get flu like symptoms and just generally feel like hell now after I have an outbreak of hives but I still get the hives fairly quickly rather than the hours later like FCAS.  Fun times I assure you.

Maybe there are others like me that will stumble on this blog and not feel so alone.  When I met the first person I ever knew to have an allergy to cold, a friend remarked it was like I’d met a long lost sibling.  It WAS like that because until then I’d never known anyone else to have it.  However it was him telling me that he’d grown out of it and he thought everyone did to get me to look further into it.

To my fellow “freaks” out there, HELLO!

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  1. I feel your pain, only the other way around! I’m allergic to heat, it’s awful. I don’t have it really bad, but I certainly start getting hives when I get overheated. I’ve never let it continue until it’s too much though, but now I’m going to be paying more attention than I was before, that’s for sure. It sucks so bad!

  2. Hi!
    I have some type of an allergy to cold, but it doesn’t seem to be uticaria. I don’t get hives, and I’ve yet to pass out (- I don’t think I would), but when it’s just slightly cold outside I’ll get horribly painful and itchy skin, especially on my legs as those are the most exposed, but it climbs up to my hips (under the jacket) as well. If it’s quite cold outside, this starts within a minute of going outside. I don’t think my treshold of pain is very low at all, but this pain (- it’s like burning, itching and that feeling you get if someone twists the skin of your arm two ways, all together) is unbearable – I can’t really think, I’m pretty much in panic, and I have to get inside. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember – I remember having it at around three (which is as far back my memories go;) ). And no one ever took it seriously really (“everybody gets itchy in the winter – use lotion”), until finally one doctor knew of uticaria when I was 22, and prescribed antihistamines, and that work.

    It’s amazing what a totally different life I can have now. I wouldn’t be able to have the job that I have right now without the antihistamines, and more than half of the year I would either have to stay inside or be in agony going somewhere (- I live in a cold country). I do wonder what it really is that I have, as cold uticaria really seems to be “all about the hives” when you find descriptions of it.

    Of course you are way worse off than I am, I don’t think what I have is life-threatening – only “quality of life-threatening”. Do antihistamines help you at all?

  3. Hello, Cory let u know u are not alone , I have group with around 170 people in my group that have CU some are genetic, acquired and primary .I also thought it was normal to have this condition and thought I was all alone in the world until I got older and started internet researching and in 2011 started a group and page on Facebook to share my story ,support and awareness of this condition I have had my CU since I was 4 I going to be 37 come January , iv never grown out of this matter of fact it’s gotten worse over the years , I take visteril ( hydroxizine) for probably the last 2-3 years now and it works 100% for me its the only thing if tried over my years that has completely will stop my reactions and hives as long as I take it nightly! I suffer from the anaphylaxis shock when I have a reaction 80% of the time its a full body reaction , i always run a low body tempature around 97.4-97.7 , I get heart palpations, weakness, blurry vision, shortness of breath , fatigue , headaches, when I do react the last few years have been hard on me that my body seems to overly react I have problems with my WBC going skjy high and nobody knows why , the last 6 months i have lost 28 lbs which has been a concern with my doctor , i have alot of pain and stiffness , I don’t know if its all related but I think IT’S all linked to my Cold Urticaria . I have been trying to get doctors in my area for years and years and years to believe my conditon there is not enough doctors and medical staff that are aware of tbhis and its very frustrating trying to get treament , i finakky found a doctor that that wants to finally send me to a specialist after all these years , but he just don’t want to diagnosis me with Cold Urtiaria only chronic urticaria he said let the allergist do that , I know it is what I have , i react to cooler tempatures, cold air, wind, sweat when it cools down, air coinditoner , lakes, pools, i even react to the cold toilet seats !And even the doctor I have know does not want to admit such a condition is real . I just thought I’d share my story with u maybe you can come visit and join my group for the support so u won’t feel so alpine with this condition everyone is great and noon judgmental in the group a great bunch of people who go through the same things daily ! Sincerely, Melissa Myers (aka Missy) COLD URTICARIA Melissa’s Facebook group