Cold urticaria is a skin reaction to cold. The skin zone that is affected develops reddish welts (hives) that itch. Usually, it is most frequent in young adults and the treatment includes preventive steps, such as taking antihistamines or avoiding cold air, water or ice-cold drinks and food, because it is not known exactly what causes it. It can be because of sensitive skin cells, an inherited trait or an illness.
People with this type of urticaria experience different symptoms. Some even might have low blood pressure or faint if swimming in cold water. The most common signs are temporary reddish welts that itch on the area of skin exposed to cold and that worsen as the skin warms, swelling of the hands while holding cold objects and swelling of lips from consuming cold food or drinks. Severe reactions may include fainting, racing heart and swelling of the tongue and throat, which can make it difficult to breathe.