Hi, I'm Ben and I wanted to share my cold urticaria story. If you aren't familiar, this is a condition that causes hives and itching in response to cold (yes, cold) temperature such as pools, oceans, air conditioning, or even a cold can of soda.
I acquired cold urticaria around the age of 20, when after a long summer day spent at the pool I came home to find my face visibly swollen. We thought it was an allergy to shellfish, which I had had earlier, or a response to prolonged sun exposure. In the end, it was the day spent in cold water, and looking back, I'm relieved the response was not more intense.
I am thankful that on the scale of intensity, my condition is moderate, at worst. I do not experience much beyond intense itching if the cold exposure is prolonged, and I can handle cold beverages fine, swimming too, if I keep an eye on the clock. My problems crop up in cold windy weather, on exposed skin, namely my face, which can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. I can feel my face swell when exposed to wind, and extremities itch readily.
Luckily H2 antihistamines work well for me. Zyrtec has been my medicine of choice and completely eliminates my itching, however the welts and red hives still appear. Lately however, I have been experimenting with Ebastine, a drug approved mostly everywhere but not available in the US for unknown reasons (likely market competition). A commonly cited article (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17900265) suggests Ebastine not only reduces the histamine interaction but also tapers the initial mast cell response. I will report back once I have a clearer understanding of its efficacy.
Finally I want to note where I think this disease came from. Some studies suggest that these disorders of the immune system are caused by infectious mononucleosis (mono). I was in fact diagnosed with mono when I was 15. I am hopeful it will go away within the next few years. I am encouraged by the fact that the response has not increased in intensity for some time.
I hope this information helps any others out there suffering from the same.