You are here

Can You Be Allergic to Cold Weather?


With food and pollen allergies on the rise, parents already have their hands full. But there is yet another, rarer allergy to be on the watch for during this time of year: an allergic reaction to cold temperature.

Though it sounds far-fetched, cold urticarial works in the same way that other, more common allergies do. Reactions can include redness, hives, itching and even throat swelling. Cold urticaria affects only one in 100,000 people.

Plus: How to Reduce Allergies

Unfortunately, there is no blood test for cold urticaria. But Dr. William Lanting, at the Asthma and Allergy Center of the Rockies, managed to come up with a test of his own: hold an ice cube for three minutes and then watch what happens as the skin warms up. If hives spread on the tested area, it is likely cold urticaria.

“You have these mast cells, or allergy cells that are found mainly in the skin, and are set off by allergens like food, medications and stinging insects,” Dr. Lanting told “Exposure to cold or literally holding a coke can or ice cube can set off the mast cell, so if you’re exposed to cold at a certain temperature, you can get hives. Hives you can deal with using Benadryl, but if it’s severe enough it can cause throat swelling and breathing problems.”

Plus: Parents of Allergic Kids Worry About Peanut Butter Cheerios

Most people with cold urticaria have manageable symptoms and while there is no definitive cure, it can be controlled by taking a daily chronic antihistamine.

Does your child exhibit an allergic reaction to the cold? How do you deal with it in the winter? Leave a comment and let us know.