Cold urticaria: what it is and how to cure it


If before the exposure to very low temperatures or at the time of ingesting cold drinks you have detected an anomalous reaction in your body, you may be suffering from cold urticaria. It is not a frequent pathology and can have different manifestations, some mild and others more severe, which may require specialized medical treatment.

Cold urticaria: what it is and how to cure it

The symptoms of cold urticaria can be confused with other ailments, or even with those that cause other types of hives. Therefore, it is important to know how to recognize the symptoms to take, where appropriate, the appropriate preventive measures. If you want to know what cold urticaria is and how to cure it, in this article we give you all the details.

What is cold urticaria

As pointed out by the specialists of the Spanish Society of Allergology and Clinical Immunology (SEAIC) [1] cold urticaria is a type of physical urticaria, which manifests itself mainly as a skin reaction that arises in direct contact with the cold.

Low temperatures, a gust of icy wind, a full bath or immersing a part of the body in cold water, contact with a ‘frozen' object or even the intake of very cold drinks or food could trigger it.

If you ask yourself “Why do I have an allergy to cold?”, pay attention to the causes of hives, which can be very diverse:

  • Excessive skin sensitivity or other disorders that affect the skin.
  • Intolerance to cold.
  • Allergic reactions.
  • Hereditary factors.
  • The alteration in the immunoglobulins present in the blood, which could be behind the episodes of cold urticaria, which usually occur mainly in young adults.

Symptoms of cold urticaria

The cold is what triggers the symptoms of hives, the most common being the appearance of reddish welts or hives accompanied by an intense r peak, characteristic of any type of urticaria. In addition, it is common for swollen areas to appear to a lesser or greater degree.

How do you know if you have an allergy to cold? Pay attention to the following symptoms, which may be located in the area of skin most exposed to cold. For example, swelling in the lips if you have taken an ice cream, in your hands, if you have held a cold object or in specific areas of the face if you have been exposed to an icy wind.

In the most severe cases, the symptoms can spread to the whole organism causing serious manifestations, such as swelling of the tongue and throat or even tachycardia or lowering of blood pressure, in which case it will be necessary to receive medical assistance immediately.

Except for these exceptions, in general the symptoms of cold urticaria are mild, itching coupled with a slight redness and possible swelling of areas of the skin.

How to tell if you have a cold allergy

If you have doubts about whether you suffer from it or not, the ‘ice cube test‘ can give you the answer. It is a simple test but should always be performed by an allergist to correctly interpret its results avoiding, in addition, any risk.

It consists of applying an ice on the forearm for about five minutes and, after ten, observing any possible adverse reaction in the area.

How long the symptoms of hives last

They appear immediately after contact with the cold and usually disappear, spontaneously, after between 30 minutes and two hours after that contact. This is an important detail when it comes to recognizing a cold urticaria, which has nothing to do with other skin alterations, which can cause low temperatures such as excessive dryness in the skin or the presence of chilblains.

Given its main symptoms, it is important to consult with a specialist doctor to correctly identify the ailment and, if necessary, establish the corresponding treatment.

How to cure cold urticaria

Cold urticaria, in most cases is an allergic reaction, so there is no specific treatment to cure it, since it will always depend on the degree of severity that manifests that reaction in each person who suffers it.

Now, how is hives cured by cold? Preventive measures are the best tool to combat this type of reaction avoiding risk situations. Therefore, pay attention to the following tips to cure hives:

  • Do not be exposed to low temperatures.
  • Avoiding the intake of cold food or drinks and sudden baths in ice water are premises that people suffering from this ailment must keep in mind.
  • Wrap up conveniently without forgetting gloves, hat and scarf.

If the reactions occur frequently or have severe symptoms, the specialist will establish the treatment that keeps them under control, usually with antihistamine drugs, which stop the manifestations of the allergic reaction.

It must be remembered that cold urticaria can hide other diseases that require specific treatment so, if it is suffered, it is always important to detect it to take, in front of it, the appropriate measures.

If you liked this article about what is cold urticaria and how to cure it, we recommend you consult our post How to feel less cold with tips to prevent the typical ailments of this intolerance to low temperatures.


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