Medical Specialty >> Dermatology

Doctors Lounge - Dermatology Answers

Back to Dermatology Answers List

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Doctors Lounge ( does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician. Please read our 'Terms and Conditions of Use' carefully before using this site.

Date of last update: 10/18/2017.

Forum Name: Dermatology Topics

Question: Skin reactions to cold

 n52463g - Mon Feb 20, 2006 8:30 pm

I'm a 20 year old female. I am from the US but I'm currently abroad in the UK for a 5 month period.

For about a week, my skin has been reacting to the cold. It first started with my ears-- they would get red and would swell and after about an hour or two, the swelling would go away. Then about two days later, I was walking outside and my leg started to itch. This turned into what seemed to be hives all on my upper thighs. After taking some antihistamines, this went away as well. Ever since, whenever I spent prolonged periods of time (anything more than 10 minutes) outside, anything exposed seems to swell. I've tried covering my ears and putting on gloves and this prevents any irritation. My cheeks however also experience such swelling, redness and even an itching/burning sensation. This happened again tonight. Four hours later and the swelling hasn't completely gone away.

It seems strange that I would experience such suddon symptoms to the cold. I am from Massachusetts and the weather is far colder than it is here. I have also been here for a month and a half but this did not develop until a week ago.

I have had hives before, I first got them about a year ago but I figured it was an allergic reaction to food. What the food was, I never determined.

Any ideas on what's going on and what I can do?
 Dr. Safaa Mahmoud - Thu Aug 31, 2006 5:18 am

User avatar Hello,

This could be a Cold urticaria.

The condition presents with rapid onset of itchiness, redness, rash and swelling of the skin after exposure to any cold stimulus like cold whether, having a cold drink or eating cold food.

There are two forms of cold urticaria exist:
- essential (acquired) cold urticaria in which few minutes are needed for symptoms to start after cold exposure,
- familial (hereditary) cold urticaria in which it may take up to 48 hours for symptoms to appear, they also last longer.

Treatment include precautions taken while being exposed to cold and medications like the newer antihistamines (H1 receptor blockers) which are proved to be very effective.

| Check a doctor's response to similar questions

Are you a Doctor, Pharmacist, PA or a Nurse?

Join the Doctors Lounge online medical community

  • Editorial activities: Publish, peer review, edit online articles.

  • Ask a Doctor Teams: Respond to patient questions and discuss challenging presentations with other members.

Doctors Lounge Membership Application

Tools & Services: Follow DoctorsLounge on Twitter Follow us on Twitter | RSS News | Newsletter | Contact us