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mujer con gorro invierno y urticaria por frío examinando sus manos

Cold hives? How to relieve it with natural remedies

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Does the cold affect you excessively, does your skin react with redness and itching in the most exposed areas?

Cold urticaria is a skin condition caused by exposure to cold.

Low temperatures and the ingestion of ice-cold food or drink can lead to this skin reaction.

In this article we explain why it occurs, the causes and risk factors and recommend the best home remedies to alleviate the symptoms.

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What is cold urticaria?

Cold urticaria is a skin reaction triggered by exposure to cold stimuli, whether environmental conditions, contact with water or eating food.

Cold urticaria is also called frigore urticaria and can even be classified as cold allergy, although this condition is not allergic in origin.

It is characterised by the appearance of reddish, itchy welts that usually affect the most exposed areas such as the face and hands, although, depending on the reaction, they may spread to the rest of the skin.  

Cold urticaria mainly affects young adults and children, and is the third most common form of urticaria in the paediatric population.               


Types of cold urticaria and their causes

Two types of cold urticaria are distinguished.

  • Primary urticaria. This is the more common of the two. The main cause has not been determined and its appearance has been associated with various circumstances such as previous infectious diseases, thyroid disorders, taking certain medications or insect bites, among others. The average duration of primary cold urticaria is 5 or 6 years, after which it disappears.
  • Secondary urticaria. In this less common case, it is caused by a specific immunoglobulin (antibody) reaction to cold that appears to be linked to serious illness.

Cold urticaria may also be related to these other skin conditions:

  • Pressure urticaria. This is a rare form of urticaria that appears after pressure on the skin.
  • Cholinergic urticaria. Appears after a rise in body temperature due to heat or after exercise. Not to be confused with heat rash in infants.
  • Dermographism. This form of urticaria is very common and appears in the form of welts or marks after superficial scratching of the skin.

Rarely, cold urticaria is linked to certain hereditary traits.

Do you know the Ice Cube Test?

This test is used as a guideline for the diagnosis of the pathology. It consists of applying an ice cube for five minutes to the front of the forearm and waiting another ten to fifteen minutes to check for a dermal reaction in the form of wheals and redness. The test is repeated to confirm a positive result and to check the relationship between the appearance of the lesions and the waiting time. Normally, the faster and more intense the skin reaction, the greater the likelihood of a systemic inflammatory response.

In addition to this test, the doctor usually prescribes additional tests to rule out conditions associated with this urticaria.

Symptoms of cold urticaria

The symptoms of cold urticaria can vary greatly from person to person. In most cases, the symptoms are mild and disappear after a short time. However, there are some people whose reaction can be severe.

Here are the most common symptoms, both mild and more serious.

Mild symptoms:

  • Appearance of hives and redness in the areas most exposed to the cold, causing itching.
  • Increased inflammation as the skin warms up.
  • Swelling of the lips after eating cold food.
  • Swelling of the hands when holding cold things.

Severe symptoms:

  • Dizziness.
  • Swelling of the tongue and throat that can make breathing difficult.
  • Tachycardias.
  • Pain in the abdomen.
  • Loss of consciousness.

In cases of total skin exposure, e.g. immersion in cold water, anaphylaxis or severe allergic response of the whole organism may occur.

Risk factors

The main risk factors predisposing to cold urticaria are the following:

  • Being a young adult. This is the age group most affected.
  • Having an undiagnosed pathology. It is important to rule out diseases or treat them if possible.
  • Inherited genetic factors.

Preventive measures


There are several steps we can take to feel better and alleviate the symptoms of cold urticaria.

  • Dress warmly and protect the most exposed areas, such as the face and hands, with scarves and gloves.
  • Avoid sudden changes in temperature.
  • Do not engage in activities that expose you to intense cold, such as swimming in cold water or prolonged exposure to cold environmental conditions.
  • Avoid consumption of cold food and drinks.
  • Plenty of moisture to reinforce the skin’s barrier.

Natural remedies for cold hives

There is no cure for cold urticaria, which disappears on its own after weeks or even months. Preventive measures are the best treatment, especially for those of us who prefer to opt for natural remedies and avoid taking antihistamines or immunosuppressants.

Caring for damaged skin is essential to avoid aggravating the condition. Creams containing silican are particularly suitable for damaged and dry skin to improve the health and quality of the skin.

Soriaskin Gel is composed of organic silican with horsetail and echinacea, both beneficial plants for skin care and protection.

Other natural remedies for cold urticaria include:

  • In the bathtub, take a warm water bath with 2 cups of dissolved oatmeal.
  • Apply compresses soaked in an infusion of marigold flowers to the affected area.
  • Apple cider vinegar diluted in water and applied with a cloth or cotton wool can also help to reduce itching.

Cold urticaria is a most common dermatological condition in children and young adults and a frequent reason for consultation in dermatologists’ offices.

Knowing the risk factors and, above all, what remedies we can use to alleviate it, is a great help in the colder months.

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