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What are Cold Hives?
Cold hives are hives that are brought on by an allergic reaction to cold temperatures, be it water or air. When exposed to cold temperatures, people that suffer from cold hives will experience itching, redness and swelling as well as raised red welts on the skin known medically as urticaria.
People with cold hives are not simply imagining the condition. It should be taken very seriously as it can be deadly. If you have cold hives, it is best to avoid cold temperatures and definitely cold water (anything below 40 degrees Fahrenheit).
Cold hives are considered to be part of the chronic hives family in that they last longer than 6 weeks. In fact, most people that suffer from cold hives will retain the affliction their entire lives unless treated properly.
What Causes Cold Hives?
Cold hives are caused by your body's immune system perceiving the cold temperature around you as something foreign that must be fought off with histamines that are released into your blood stream. These histamines cause hives to appear, usually where the exposure took place.
The most common cause of severe and entire body covering reactions is swimming in pools, lakes or rivers with cold water. This can lead to shock, fainting and in the most severe of cases, death.
The outside weather also has a major effect on the likelihood of cold hives, such as windy or damp weather. Just being exposed to a cold wind will not lead to death, however it most certainly lead to a cold hives outbreak.
What Are The Symptoms Of Cold Hives?
Cold hives or cold urticaria symptoms will most always start within a few minutes after skin is exposed to a cool temperature or a drop in temperatures of water or air. Some hives symptoms could start during the exposure, but most symptoms are seen during the time of the skin warming back up to its previous temperature. Most cold hives cases will happen when the skin is forced to be exposed to any temperature that is lower than about 4.4 degrees Celsius or 40 degrees Fahrenheit, though some cases will show reactions in even warmer temperatures.
Symptoms of cold hives include, but are not limited to the following:
Itchy, red welts or hives rash on the skin that was exposed to the cooler temperature
Welts that last for about half an hour
Hands swell when holding any cold object
Lips swell when eating a refrigerated or cold product
Body swells when exposed to cold temperatures
Faster than normal heart beat when exposed to cold temperatures
In some of the more rare cases, swelling of the tongue or throat can occur, causing the person to have problems breathing known as pharyngeal edema. This can be life threatening if not treated immediately.
Some people will have cold hives that affect the entire body, hives brought on in this manner is known as a systemic reaction. The signs of this type of cold hives includes chills, fainting, swelling of the body, arms or legs as well as a faster than normal heart beat. Severe cases can be dangerous, especially if you do not know that you have cold hives. The worst of all reactions have been found to be those that take place with full skin exposure.
Are Cold Hives Dangerous?
YES! For those who swim in cool water, a huge release of the chemicals called histamines in the system can cause a drop in blood pressure. This in turn can cause shock or fainting and if in the wrong place, death due to drowning.
How Do I Get Rid Of My Cold Hives?
Certain hives treatments have proven to be effective at eliminating mild cold hives outbreaks, such as hives brought on by cold air exposure. However, due to the serious nature of cold hives, you should NEVER attempt to swim in cool water even if you are on an approved cold hives medicine. The risk of the medication not working 100% is just not worth the risk of passing out and drowning.