Cold urticaria is a condition that affects the skin by breaking out into hives when developed. It is essentially an allergy to cold temperatures. Hives are itchy and bumpy skin rashes that can form on the skin that is extremely irritating, and can be life-threatening in severe cases.
For a person with cold urticaria, they may experience symptoms any time they are exposed to cold water or cold weather. Some individuals cannot even consume cold liquids without suffering a reaction. The cause of cold urticaria is not entirely understood, but is believed to be related to a faulty immune system.
Within minutes of exposure to the cold (most commonly through air or water), a person can experience symptoms of cold urticaria. These reactions can actually worsen over time as the skin starts to warm up after exposure.
If the environmental conditions are windy or damp, there is a higher possibility of suffering a reaction.Though the most common symptoms are itching, hives, and sometimes painful, burning sensations, there are rare cases where people have developed fatal complications.
Not only do patients often develop the aforementioned symptoms, some also develop chills, increased heartbeat, and even fainting. In some situations, various body parts can become inflamed, especially the legs, arms, or trunk.
The most severe risk a person affected by cold urticaria can have is full-body contact with the cold. As such, being fully submerged in cold water, such as when swimming, can be extremely dangerous. One should also remain fully clothed when at home just to be safe.
Severe reactions can involve a rapid and dramatic drop in blood pressure. This rapid decrease in blood pressure can cause loss of consciousness, or anaphylactic shock. Shock is a medical condition in which there is not proper flow in the body and is life-threatening.
Symptoms of shock are confusion, chest pain, or fainting. Emergency medical treatment is necessary to properly and quickly treat these symptoms. There is currently no cure for cold urticaria, however some medications are available to manage the symptoms.
Antihistamines are the most frequent medications used to regulate urticaria, and they are effective at alleviating inflammation and itching. Many antihistamines can be purchased over-the-counter at most drug stores.
The doctor may prescribe a more potent antihistamine if the over-the-counter variety is ineffective. Some types of anxiety medications might also be effective at alleviating symptoms in some individuals.