The allergy fun just never ends! Brody has developed cold urticaria, or basically an allergy to cold. This started back in January when I got a call from school saying that Brody was in the nurse's office because his face was red, blotchy, and itchy. Sounded like a mild allergic reaction of some sort to me, so I told the nurse to give him benadryl and I jumped in the car and drove over to the school (only 5 minutes from my house) to see what was going on. By the time I got there, the nurse said the redness had already subsided a bit. Mostly at this point his chin was still covered in little bumps and itchy. After giving Brody the third degree about everything he touched and ate that day, we decided that this was probably the result of cross-contamination in his classroom. He is in a nut-free classroom and always eats his own snack from home, but with all of Brody's other allergies, unfortunately it isn't out of the question that something like this could happen on occasion. Especially since many of his classmates eat cheesy-type crackers for snack most days. I discussed this with his teacher and she said she would try to be much more on top of making sure all the kids wash their hands after eating their snacks. And that was that...or so I thought.
In February we took a family trip to Florida where one day was spent at Daytona Beach. The water was FRIGID so we had no intention of swimming, but we thoroughly enjoyed wading in the ocean just up to our mid-calves to pick shells for souvenirs. The boys were also sitting in the cold, wet sand building sand castles. After about an hour I noticed that Brody's legs and hands were looking very blotchy. By the time we got into the car to leave he was complaining that he was very itchy and the blotches definitely looked more hive-like at that point. I think his hands were even slightly swollen. The only explanation we could come up with at that time was perhaps someone with a shellfish allergy and very sensitive skin would react to swimming in an ocean, obviously full of shellfish. I gave him benadryl and the hives completely went away within an hour.
In June Brody and his brother had some friends over. They decided to turn on the hose and take turns spraying each other. Of course water out of a hose is always very cold. After a while Brody came into the house and showed me his hands and feet. They were covered with hives just like when we were at the ocean. At this point it suddenly dawned on me what was going on. I had heard of cold urticaria before, but never gave it much thought. Since Brody was soaking wet and shivering, I told him to go into the bathroom and strip off the wet clothes while I grabbed him something dry to put on. When I walked into the bathroom I realized that most of his body was covered in hives and he was scratching at them like mad. I whipped out the benadryl, called my husband to grab the camera so we could document what was going on, and wrapped Brody in a towel to warm his skin back up. When I spoke with the allergist a few days later, he agreed that it sounded like a case of cold urticaria.
So back to that day at school where his face was hivey...Brody finally remembered that right before this happened he had been outside for recess where he joined in a snowball fight and he ended up with a face full of snow! A-ha...mystery solved!
Here is a blurb from the Mayo Clinic website about cold urticaria:
As strange as it sounds, it's possible to have an allergy to cold temperatures. Doctors refer to this as cold urticaria (ur-tih-KAR-ee-uh). It's also sometimes called cold allergy or cold hives. With cold urticaria, exposure to cold temperatures causes redness, itching, swelling and hives on your skin. As much as possible, people with cold urticaria should avoid exposure to cold air as well as 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.