Do you develop an itchy rash or welts after you come in from the cold, specifically on the skin that clothing did not cover? Does your throat or lips become swollen after you eat or drink something that is frozen? Has being in cold water ever caused an itchy rash or made you feel faint?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, you may have a medical condition called cold urticaria. People with this health condition develop hives (welts on their skin that usually itch) when exposed to the cold.
Texas Surgical Dermatology, led by board certified dermatologist Dr. Tri H. Nguyen, provides safe and proven skin care treatments to patients in Houston, Katy, Spring, The Woodlands, Texas, and surrounding communities.
Other Causes of Hives
An individual may not get hives each time they encounter something cold. Some people get hives only when they swim in cold water, or cool air comes in contact with their skin.
Others are more sensitive and can develop hives even upon walking into an air-conditioned room or lingering near a freezer case in a grocery store. A majority of people who develop hives from cold are otherwise healthy individuals.
It is not necessary for people who get hives from cold to live with outbreaks. Taking some precautions may enable a person to avoid hives. In addition, medicines may be necessary. (Prior to taking any medication, it is vital for a person to determine whether they have cold urticaria.)
How is cold urticaria diagnosed?
It can be helpful to consult a board-certified dermatologist to determine whether a person has cold urticaria. Dermatologists usually diagnose hives and care for patients who develop hives.
A dermatologist will ask what symptoms the patient experiences when exposed to cold to determine whether they get hives from the cold. The patient should tell the dermatologist if they develop any of these signs and symptoms when they are exposed to cold:
- Welts, sometimes itchy
- Burning sensation
- Inflammation and redness on skin exposed to the cold
- Fainting or lightheadedness
- Swollen lips or inflammation in the throat
The dermatologist may also test the patient’s skin to understand how it responds to cold. Some individuals are given the ice cube challenge test. In case this test is necessary, the dermatologist will place a plastic bag with ice cubes on the patient’s bare skin, typically their forearm.
A majority of people who have cold urticaria develop a welt on their skin after the bag is taken away, and their skin begins to warm up. Even if they do not develop a welt from the ice cube challenge test, it is possible that they may have cold urticaria. For this reason, the dermatologist will ask questions and evaluate the skin.
For many people, avoiding what causes their hives is enough to help them live comfortably. In case a person has ever had a serious reaction from the cold, such as inflammation in their throat or passing out, their dermatologist may recommend that they always carry an epinephrine pen. In case of a serious reaction, injecting themselves could save their life.
One drug that helps many individuals with cold urticaria is an antihistamine. It can prevent the development of hives. In addition, an antihistamine can prevent symptoms such as itchiness.
In case the antihistamines are unable to prevent hives, the dermatologist may prescribe a stronger medication, such as omalizumab. Board certified dermatologist Dr. Tri H. Nguyen at Texas Surgical Dermatology receives patients from Houston, Katy, Spring, The Woodlands, Texas, and nearby areas for advanced skin care procedures.
For more information on procedures and treatments offered at Texas Surgical Dermatology PA please call 832.663.6566 or click here to contact our dermatologists. Helping patients in Houston, The Woodlands, Springs, Katy and other surrounding areas of Texas.