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Systemic Cold Urticaria

Systemic Cold Urticaria is a very rare form of Cold Urticaria.  The systemic form of Cold Urticaria is seen with a generalized (other areas of body, not just area exposed) distribution of urticaria (occurring upon exposure to cold).  The form was first reported in 1984. This includes Cold Urticaria occurring underneath clothed areas, usually on the trunk and extremities.  The CSTT is may be positive early in development of the condition, but months or years later test negative.

Systemic Cold Urticaria (SCU) is not to be confused with Reflex Cold Urticaria or Cold Urticaria with systemic reactions.  Reflex Cold Urticaria will cause an individual to have a reaction in one area other than the exposed site.  With SCU, multiple areas as well as the full body, including the exposed site will display a reaction.  Cold Urticaria with systemic reactions involves a localized reaction (hives at area exposed to cold) that leads to Anaphylaxis and/or shock.  A systemic reaction is any reaction that disrupts two or more organ systems.

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Nuggets of Wisdom

Yes, there is such a thing as having an allergic type reaction to temperatures. This is defined as a physical urticaria. Other physical urticarias include Solar, Aquagenic, Pressure, Vibration and Exercise.

Most reactions are pseudo-allergic. By definition, an allergy involves inhaling or consuming an allergen. Physical urticarias have no known allergen. Despite the terminology and medical definitions, systemic reactions can be life threatening.

Cold has an arbitrary definition based on an individual feeling. For a person with a cold urticaria, cold can be defined as any temperature cooler than their own body temperature.

You do not have to be cold to have a reaction to the cold; contact with cold can trigger a reaction.

You can have an allergic type reaction to both cold and heat simultaneously.

Most reactions considered anaphylactic are really anaphylactoid by definition.

Moving to a warmer climate as a treatment for Cold Urticaria is a myth. Warmer climates present their own issues for those with Cold Urticaria.

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