Imagine never being able to venture outdoors in freezing temperatures or have a nice ice cold drink  or a cooling dip in the sea on a scorching hot day?   These are just some of the issues that Cold Urticaria suffers have to endure.

Most people have never heard of  this unusual allergy let alone know that there are in fact four different types of it.

The four types of cold urticaria are:

  1. Primary Cold Contact Urticaria
  2. Secondary Cold Contact Urticaria
  3. Familial Cold Urticaria
  4. Reflex Cold Urticaria

Primary Cold Contact Urticaria  occurs in cold, rainy and windy weather.  It can also occur after coming into contact with cold objects such as ice cubes.  Primary Cold Contact Urticaria is is characterized by hives.

Secondary Cold Contact Urticaria is also characterized by hives.  This type of Cold Urticaria is due to underlying conditions (infections or disease).

Familial Cold Urticaria is extremely rare, it is estimated that 1 person in every million will  suffer from this type of Cold Urticaria.  This autosomal dominant condition is characterized by conjunctivitis, rash, chills/fever and joint pain due to exposure to temperatures below 22°c (72°F).

Reflex Cold Urticaria is a cutaneous condition in which generalized cooling of the body induces widespread whealing.

Cold Urticaria reactions usually occur when the sufferer’s skin is exposed to temperatures lower than 40°F.  Windy and damp weather conditions can also trigger a reaction even in the warmest of climates.

The symptoms of Cold Urticaria will begin almost immediately following exposure to cold water or air.  Hives or a rash will then appear on the exposed skin.   The hives give a burning sensation, they are the result of the capillaries dilating and allowing fluid to flow out into the epidermis.  Once the body has absorbed this fluid the hives subside, this can vary from a few minutes to a few days.

More serious reactions can be very severe and life threatening, which makes it extremely important for Cold Urticaria sufferers to carry their Epi-Pen with them at all times.