Allergic to the Cold?…No Really!

Posted on Jan 14 2014 - 7:57pm by cris

cold urticariaMy Story

Ever heard of cold urticaria? Well, neither had I until I was diagnosed in 2010.

When I was pregnant with my daughter in 2009, I began noticing that my hands would swell whenever I spent time outside in cold temperatures. When it was hot, I would break out in hives whenever I sweat or when the AC blew on me.

Even if I drank something cold (my biggest craving was ice cold water 24/7) I could feel my throat tightening.

At first, everyone (including myself) thought I was nuts.

It took me a while to piece everything together. Most of my symptoms could be somewhat explained by pregnancy: swollen hands, itchy skin, strange rashes.

It wasn’t until my daughter was 3 months old, and my symptoms were still persisting, that I started Googling. I know, I know…NEVER Google your own symptoms…you’ll always find that you’re “dying”, but in this instance, it proved to be helpful.

I Googled “hives + cold temperatures” and BAM! I found cold urticaria. Unfortunately, a name was really about all I found. No one really knows what causes cold urticaria, some say it’s permanent, others say it lasts 4-6 years, one can be born with it or acquire it for no known reason, pregnancy can bring it on, as well as, bee stings or fire ant bites (did, I mention that I stepped in a bed of fire ants while pregnant? Yup!), the list goes on and on.

I scheduled an appointment with a local allergy specialist to see is she could offer me any more information. Since cold urticaria is so rare, I was met with a lot of skepticism by the doctor. She agreed to perform a “highly scientific” 3 minute ice test where a glass filled with ice water was placed on my forearm for 3 minutes, then the welt that arose was measured. This test was followed by a 1 minute test. Here were my results:

3 Minute Ice Test: Initial Diagnosis Feb. 2010

3 Minute Ice Test: Initial Diagnosis Feb. 2010

The welts or hives on my forearm were so large that nurses from all over the building stopped by to take pictures of the freak show with their phones. I was FAMOUS!

After the “freak show”, I was sent for a lot of blood work that confirmed I was highly allergic to fire ants and indeed had cold urticaria.

As far as “treatment” goes, I was given a prescription for a mild antihistamine that would not affect breastfeeding…much…and an epinephrin pen for emergencies.

Living in a mild climate, I was able to manage my symptoms well enough not to have to rely on an antihistamine every day, rather I carried the bottle in my purse and used it as a treatment rather than prevention. Fortunately, I have yet to need the epi pens.

About 2 years later I became pregnant with my second child. I must admit, I was a bit hopeful that since my cold urticaria surfaced during my 1st pregnancy that it might disappear during a 2nd pregnancy. Although I was not symptom free during my pregnancy, my symptoms were much less severe…hardly noticeable.

For me, cold urticaria seems to be linked to my hormones.  After pregnancy, my symptoms returned, but they were still lessened. I stopped taking the antihistamines and replaced them with Essante Bee Natural tabs about 4 months ago.

Bee Natural Tabs are 100% certified Toxic Free and include a wide spectrum of vital nutrients including pollen, royal jelly, honey, thousands of enzymes and coenzymes, vitamins, minerals, and hormones! Human consumption of bee pollen and royal jelly has been praised throughout history and medical and wellness practitioners, including Hippocrates and Pythagoras, have long prescribed it for its healing properties.

Bee Natural Tabs have freed me from antihistamines (and fear of their effects on my milk supply) and lessened my symptoms making daily activities in the cold safer and more comfortable.

Cold urticaria has received much more attention in the media over the last few years. My hope is that more people who suffer from this condition unidentified will recognize their symptoms, find answers, and know that they are not “crazy” or alone in their struggle.

Do you or someone you know suffers with cold urticaria? Please share your story in the comments section below.

**Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post. I was not required to give a positive review and all opinions are 100% my own. I am an executive with Essante Organics and only receive compensation through their outlined system (sales, bonuses, commissions, etc).

***The FDA has not evaluated these statements. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.


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13 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Bethany March 11, 2016 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    I’ve just discovered that I have cold urticaria. I’ve been struggling with the symptoms for the past 6 months. It started after we had a heat wave where I live. After reading this article I understand that’s where the sweat came in! I thought the hives would stop once the weather got cooler. But then I got a new job and started getting hives in my office. I equated it to stress of the new job — now I see it was just the AC! Once winter hit, I started breaking out much more often, especially when I did my morning work out in shorts. I’ve been documenting and taking pictures so that by now I’m aware of how to prevent breaking out, or I know how to warm up once I start to feel the “itch”.

    Yesterday I had my first pre-natal appointment and I mentioned the Hives issue to by ob-gyn thinking maybe pregnancy symptoms, or perhaps getting off of birth control, brought on the hives. He hadn’t heard about it but after our appointment when the nurse was checking me out of the office, he returned with a business card saying he’d googled the symptoms and Oila! Cold Urticaria. Why didn’t I think of that?

    My hope is that after giving birth the symptoms die down or go away completely. So far, being 4 months pregnant, the symptoms are the same from when they started if not more frequent (or perhaps I’m just more aware)

    Although it doesn’t look there’s any definite “Cures” out there, it’s encouraging to know that I’m not just going crazy when I tell people “I’m allergic to the cold!” Now I know that’s exactly what’s going on!

    Thanks for sharing your story!

    • cris March 11, 2016 at 11:53 pm - Reply

      Thanks for sharing YOUR story! I am now over 6 years post the start of my symptoms and I can’t remember the last time I had a breakout. Yay!!!
      I hope your symptoms dissipate postpartum, but if not it sounds like you have a great handle on your outbreaks. Best of luck and congrats on your baby!

  2. Sophia June 14, 2016 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    Just wanted to share my story with you since it seems there’s very few of us! While I was pregnant I started getting itchy hands and feet. This continued on for a long time and I thought it was pregnancy related. But post pregnancy, my hives continued and I started noticing that it appeared anywhere on my skin that was exposed. I went to dinner with my family one mild summer evening and I happened to be wearing shorts. My legs broke out in hives as the temperature dropped . Fortunately, my uncle, who is a dermatologist was present and I asked him about. He told me that it was cold urticaria and related to pregnancy hormones! Now, at 3 years postpartum, I still continue to get it when it’s cold. If I have a popsicle, my lips swell up to Angelina Jolie size. Thanks for giving me hope that my symptoms may possibly dissipate! I hope my symptoms they will go away with time.. I don’t dare to go swimming in a pool!

    • cris June 14, 2016 at 10:10 pm - Reply

      Thank you for sharing your experience! Your story is all too familiar. I totally remember the Angelina Jolie days…it eventually became funny. Lol 😉
      Take care and hang in there. Sending you all my hopes and prayers for recovery!

  3. Ashley January 29, 2017 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    I was about 8 years old when my symptoms first surfaced and it took some time to realize that my breakouts were coming from being exposed to the cold. I eventually learned to live with it as every doctor had no idea what it could be, so I adjusted my life around it and found that hot baths were the only thing that would ever help a breakout. I live in the north where it’s cold half the year and it honestly sucked especially with winter being my favorite season. I became pregnant with my first child when I was 19 and to my surprise when winter rolled around again I had no symptoms at all! Not even after I gave birth in spring and all through the next winter did I have any breakouts or even a single hive the entire time. However when I got pregnant with my second child when tempatures started to drop towards the end of my pregnancy it suddenly reappeared worse and was worse than it had ever been before, it would even spread across my entire body including my face and not even warm weather could keep it away. Anything as small as a cool breeze across my skin would cause me to breakout, it didn’t matter if it was the hottest month of the year or if it was dead winter. I’m currently in the 35th week of my third pregnancy and it has once again disappeared, it’s the end of January with snow on the ground and still no signs to be seen, hopefully I will never have to deal with it again because this Michigan girl loves the snow!

    • cris February 1, 2017 at 4:48 pm - Reply

      Thank you for sharing your story! Wow, what a roller coaster! I hope your symptoms stay gone for good this time…and best wishes for baby #3!

  4. Sonja October 16, 2017 at 10:55 am - Reply

    Hi there,

    I’m a sufferer of Cold Urticaria – diagnosed 3 years ago after a bout of Mono.

    I’m currently pregnant & find it really hard to gain info on this rare disorder, or trustworthy advice from doctors, as they haven’t reallly dealt with it. If it’s not too personal, I wondered if you’d mind if I asked you some questions about your pregnancies & births? My main 2 concerns are 1) did your children inherit Cold Urticaria 2) did you have an epidural during labour? (I’m petrified they’ll give me too-cold fluids and send me into anaphylactic shock / damage my spine).
    Would really appreciate any reply. Thanks

    • cris October 16, 2017 at 1:06 pm - Reply

      First off, congratulations on your soon-to-be. 😁
      To answer your first question, no, my children did not inherit cold urticaria.
      As for your second question, I ended up with two C-sections and I had a spinal both times. Your concerns are very well thought out.
      My best advice would be to create a very detailed birth plan to have it with you at the hospital. Make several copies and distribute them to your doctor ahead of time and the nurses on the floor when you get there.
      If you’re lucky, you will get a great anesthesiologist that will talk to you through the whole process and answer concerns as you have them. If I were you, I might even talk to my doctor about meeting with an anesthesiologist prior to the birth to discuss your concerns.
      Best of luck!

    • Terri January 15, 2018 at 8:49 pm - Reply

      Having to have surgery after being diagnosed with Cold Induced Urticara All you have to do is make sure your file is flagged with an allergy to cold. They can heat fluid bags as well as blow a bear hugger on the bed and you to keep your body temp from dropping.

  5. Terri January 15, 2018 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    In April of 2016 I gave birth to my 3rd child my first girl. Since then I have had Cold Induced urticaria. Drinks other than room temp will cause my throat to swell. A cool breeze or splash of cool water will cause hives and a burning sensation. I was an very outdoors person but with taking antihistamines daily I am still unable to enjoy the outdoors and have become housebound. I have a nurse that is working on getting me receiving Xolaire injections for for this condition. I also have a 7 year old niece with the same diagnosis. Is there anyone out there that has received Xolaire injections for this condition.

    • cris January 15, 2018 at 8:50 pm - Reply

      I am so sorry to hear of your extreme symptoms. I have not taken Xolaire, but hopefully someone else on her can help you out. Best of success!

  6. Deepa April 2, 2018 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    I’m so glad to have found you site. For me it’s a bit different from you because I have had it since i was old enough to remember but the symptoms were always mild and I used to react only at very low temperatures. Although I didn’t know there was a name for it I need I had some kind of an allergic reaction to cold and since I lived in a country that had a warm climate majority of the year, I was fine. But recently after I stopped breast feeding my second child and I remember I had also taken antibiotics around the same time. I haven’t had any infection in a very long time so that was probably something I thought might have triggered it, I don’t know. But now it could be an AC or a cold breeze or anything to do with cold stuff that makes me break out where I’m exposed. Also it doesn’t help that live in a place where it’s cold half of the year. I happened to read that quercetin helps some people by lowering their reaction, have you heard about that??. Also this bee natural tab how did you start taking them. Did you see a doctor for that? Please help.

    • cris April 3, 2018 at 4:45 pm - Reply

      I haven’t tried Quercetin. My doctor prescribed antihistamines which I hate and stopped taking. The Bee tabs are by Essante Organics and a great source of bee pollen and royal jelly. Sorry the link is not working. I’ll look into it. For now, try You should be able to find the product from there. Best of luck!

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