What is Cold Hives?

Cold hives or Cold Urticaria is an allergy which causes skin rashes or red welts on exposure to cold weather or a cold stimulus. There are a variety of cold stimuli that can cause cold hives. The triggers include cold food, cold water or drinks, ice cubes, swimming in cold water.

People who are allergic to cold, when exposed to a cold climate get mild hives along with itchiness and redness. Cold urticaria may also occur by a number of underlying medical problems such as infections, autoimmune diseases, some cancers, and side effects from certain medications.

Sometimes cold hives also occur because it is hereditary.

Cold Urticaria/Hives Signs and Symptoms

  • Reddish and itchy welts appear on the area of skin that was exposed to cold. Welts usually last for less than an hour.
  • When a person suffering from cold allergy holds any cold object, they may get swelling in hands.
  • When eating cold foods, swelling of lips may occur.
  • In rare cases, severe swelling of the tongue and throat can occur which could be dangerous as it blocks the airway passage causing breathing difficulties.
  • In severe cases, a patient could show signs of fainting, chills, fast heartbeat and swelling of limbs.

Diagnosis of Cold Hives

To diagnose the presence of cold hives, an ice cube test is conducted on the patient. In this test, an ice cube is placed on the forearm of the patient for about 10 minutes. If a swelling or hives occurs on the site within 5 minutes on removal of the ice, then the person is diagnosed with cold hives or urticaria.

Once a person is diagnosed with cold hives, then it becomes essential to find out the underlying cause of cold hives. Other medical tests such as blood tests should be conducted to find out if the person is suffering from an autoimmune disorder, viral infection or a type of cancer.

Treatment of cold hives:

The best way to treat cold hives is to prevent it from occurring. This can be done by completely avoiding any exposure to cold climate or a cold stimulus. If you are suffering from cold hives then it makes sense to avoid swimming in cold water as this can lead to an allergic reaction causing hives formation.

Avoid drinking cold water as it could lead to swelling and itching. Also avoid extreme temperatures, for instance into an air conditioned room suddenly from a hot environment can also trigger an allergic reaction in the body. It is wise to consume antihistamines before exposure to a cold environment.

If you are suffering from cold hives, on and off, for more than 3 years then seek medical attention immediately. Treating cold hives isn’t difficult, nor is the opposite condition of solar hives, but treatment could vary from person to person since the underlying cause of cold hives is different from person to person.