View Full Version : Cold urticaria?

Tirzah Harper
08-28-2007, 10:07 AM
I just got diagnosed with cold urticaria yesterday - apparently it's pretty common in people of European ancestry. I've had mild symptoms for the last few years (a couple small hives after jogging in the cold, for example) but this summer it's gotten much worse, with a few pretty painful episodes of hives until I warmed my skin back up.
Aside from the Zyrtec that my doctor prescribed, does anyone know of anything helpful to do? She said to keep warm and basically wait it out, as it normally lasts 1-6 years before going away.
Obviously "keep warm" drastically inhibits my workout abilities here in Ohio; I'm not looking forward to winter.

Ken Mindoro
08-28-2007, 06:43 PM
Your doctor is on the right track. As with any allergy, avoiding the inciting factor is much more effective than any treatment you can do after you have a reaction. Avoid situations where your body temperature drops rapidly. This includes standing in front of a fan to dry off your sweat on a hot day. Oh, and you might want to ask for an Epi-Pen just in case you have a severe reaction.

Brian De Mio
08-29-2007, 05:24 AM

Here is some information from the "Bible" of Dermatology. Clinical Dermatology~Habif.

As your Doctor told you it typically occurs when sudden drop in air temperature or immersion in cold water. Your biggest concern is the immersion in cold water as it can cause a severe reaction causing angioedema and possibly death. Swimming is usually the most common cause of severe reactions.

In most cases people with this syndrome do what your doing and have urticarial symptoms that tend to be transient resolving after you are warmed up.

typically cold urticaria is diagnosed by either placing an ice cube on a part of your skin or immersing in cold water. Again the big concern is you having a severe reaction and you should only do this in the presence of your Physician if they feel a need to do this.

We (medical folk) tend to try to treat all urticarias with antihistamines because thats what urticaria is... just a histamine release into your tissues. It's actually a bit more complex because there are several things that cause Urticaria and there a bunch of reasons you get the histamine release.

There are some meds out there that seem to help cold urticaria, however, even though they dont have that effect. Habif recommends Cyproheptadine (Periactin) or Doxepin to suppress the urticaria. You should talk to your Physician and see what he/she thinks.

Your main goal is to avoid getting cold. Kinda tuff I know but you dont want a severe reaction if it can be avoided. Hopefully you will see some resolve before too long as it can be temporary. Good Luck!

Tirzah Harper
08-22-2008, 07:07 AM
Just thought I'd put this out there as an update:

Short of paying the $100 for a gluten sensitivity test, after talking with Dr. Garrett Smith and experimenting with my diet since the original post here, I've been able to pretty certainly conclude that my cold hives are directly linked to gluten consumption.

I don't have any sort of severe celiac disease, but if I get lax and start eating more than a bite or two of wheat/gluten-containing products in a week, I'll start getting signs of the cold urticaria again, and get full-fledged hives from cold within a few weeks if I don't shape up. When I cut the gluten out, it goes away.

This is interesting and was sort of a coincidental discovery, as I was cutting out gluten for other reasons when we realized that my cold urticaria had disappeared around the same time. I've done some back-and-forth since then but it's a pretty direct link. And this gluten-cold urticaria connection isn't in any of the materials on cold urticaria that I could find online.

Hope this helps! Zyrtec controlled the hives pretty well, but I didn't like the thought of taking a pill every day for the rest of my life if I didn't have to. I'd rather learn gluten-free cooking.

Camille Lore
08-22-2008, 08:06 AM
Wow- that is really bizarre. Never heard of the condition- an allergic reaction to getting cold? And to be caused by food... wild.

Tirzah Harper
08-22-2008, 08:17 AM
Yeah, Camille, I wouldn't have believed it until it happened to me. And I REALLY wouldn't have believed that it was gluten-related until I noticed the coincidence, with Dr. G's help.
And even then I wasn't sure until just recently - the hives were coming back, and I thought it might be seasonal, since this is when I originally got them, right? And my husband has your typical seasonal allergies that are bothering him.
So I cut back my gluten to virtually nil and waited. After a week or so, no more hives, and my husband's allergies are just as bad - AND the weather is colder.
That's as conclusive as I need to get right now, as bizarre as it is!