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Dress warmly, cover your face: what is an allergy to the cold

CAUSES OF COLD ALLERGY

It seems that everyone knows about the existence of allergies to food, dust and pollen, cats and dogs. But there is also an allergy, which for many can be quite unexpected. We are talking about a reaction that becomes especially relevant when the thermometer begins to steadily fall down. If you notice changes in your skin or other symptoms after being exposed to cold temperatures, you may be allergic to cold. It is also called cold urticaria. Most often, the disease involves the appearance of papules – itchy red vesicles after exposure to cold.

CAUSES

A number of factors can cause a reaction, from walking in the yard in cold weather, swimming in cold water, to being in an air-conditioned office. In most cases, in order to develop a cold allergy in people predisposed to it, it is enough that the air temperature drops below 4 degrees Celsius. In fact, cold urticaria can affect anyone, and it most often affects young people, as well as women and children. These people tend to have thinner and more sensitive skin.

Also, the symptoms of cold urticaria can provoke the presence of certain diseases:

autoimmune diseases,

a viral infection that causes mononucleosis,

chickenpox,

Viral hepatitis, etc.

But more often than not, the symptoms appear out of nowhere, with no clear underlying trigger other than exposure to cold. Also, they can go nowhere with time.

SYMPTOMS OF COLD ALLERGY

Evidence suggests that about half of people who are sensitive to cold will have a significant improvement in symptoms over time. Signs of the disease may disappear altogether within 6 years after its onset. Cold allergy symptoms can manifest themselves in different ways. In some cases, they appear immediately after exposure to cold (after 2–5 minutes) and disappear on their own after 1–2 hours. In other cases, the reaction may begin within an hour or even several days after exposure to cold and may last up to 2 days. If your symptoms appear with a delay, this condition may be hereditary.

        Symptoms of cold urticaria include:

  • itchy red blisters
  • burning sensation on the affected skin,
  • swelling at the site of injury
  • fever,
  • ·      headache,
  • joint pain,
  • ·      fatigue,
  • anxiety.

       Severe cold urticaria symptoms that need immediate medical attention include:

  • anaphylaxis,
  • breathing problems (wheezing, swelling of the tongue and throat),
  • ·      cardiopalmus,
  • drop in blood pressure
  • fainting,
  • shock.

However, some of the symptoms mentioned are not always caused by allergies. Sometimes they can be caused by other diseases. For example, during a cold, under the influence of cold air, inflammation of very small vessels can occur. In this case, such symptoms develop as:

  • skin redness,
  • itch,
  • swelling.

These symptoms usually disappear after a few weeks. In the case of Raynaud’s disease , patients develop vasoconstriction, causing difficulty in blood flow to the extremities. As a result, the affected areas, usually the hands and feet, may appear pale and/or blue in the skin when exposed to cold. These symptoms may last for several minutes or hours.

And with cold agglutinin disease (this is when the body attacks its red blood cells when the blood temperature drops below normal body temperature), hemolytic anemia can occur.

Such ailments are often associated with this condition: infectious mycoplasmal pneumonia, scarlet fever, staphylococcal infections, oncology, viral infections.

Another type of rare anemia is paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria. In patients with this condition, antibodies in the body attack and kill healthy red blood cells. It is considered an autoimmune disease.

       Symptoms of this disease:

  • discolored or dark brown urine
  • fever
  • ·      abdominal pain
  • ·      fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing during physical exertion
  • pallor.

Paroxysmal cold hemoglobinuria is more common in children than in adults.

DIAGNOSTICS AND TREATMENT OF COLD Urticaria

It is important to correctly diagnose the cause of the symptoms, to exclude the conditions that cause them. Do not postpone a visit to a specialist in case of a severe reaction. The doctor will most likely test your skin using an ice cube, which he will apply to the body for several minutes. In the presence of cold urticaria, symptoms may appear as early as 20 or 30 minutes. If the diagnosis of cold allergy is confirmed, treatment will focus on reducing or controlling symptoms. Antihistamines may help minimize the reaction. But sometimes they don’t work. There are also other drugs that can treat this condition :

corticosteroids,

Synthetic hormones

antibiotics,

leukotriene antagonists ,

other immunosuppressants.

If you are at risk of severe or life-threatening reactions, your doctor may prescribe you to carry an epinephrine dispenser that prevents anaphylaxis from developing.

PREVENTION OF COLD Urticaria

The best way to prevent cold urticaria is to avoid exposure to cold temperatures.

  • · Wear protective clothing during the cold season: warm jackets, hats, gloves and scarves.
  • Try to expose your skin to cold as little as possible.
  • · Check the temperature of the water before diving into it.
  • · If you like to swim in pools, look for a pool that is heated even in summer.
  • Take warm showers and baths.
  • Drink drinks at room temperature and without ice.
  • Avoid ice cream.
  • However, in any case, it is better to entrust the control of your cold allergy to a doctor.

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