Cold urticaria (ur-tih-KAR-e-uh) is an allergy to cold temperatures. With cold urticaria, exposure to cold temperatures causes redness, itching, swelling and hives on the skin that has been in contact with the cold. As much as possible, people with cold urticaria should avoid exposure to cold air and cold water. For example, swimming in cold water is the most common cause of a severe, whole-body reaction — leading to fainting, shock and even death.

If you think you have cold urticaria, also called cold allergy or cold hives, consult your doctor. Treatment for cold urticaria may include antihistamines taken before cold exposure.

Nov. 15, 2011

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