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Condition causes allergy to extreme cold

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – When temperatures drop below zero, doing anything outside can be brutal.

“It’s kind of hard. Your dogs don’t want to go outside. Your kids don’t want to get on the bus,” Heather Tallman of Bargersville said.

Not only is the extreme cold uncomfortable, it can also be painful.

“My hands can’t work. Getting into the car is hard and so is trying to turn the wheel,” Breanna Schuster of Indianapolis said.

“I kind of feel like my joints hurt a little bit and I’m not even 40, so it’s kind of ridiculous. You don’t want to go outside. You feel like you’re shivering too much,” Tallman explained.

In some cases, it’s actually possible to be allergic to the cold.

“There’s a condition called cold urticaria. Urticaria is the medical term for hives and so there are persons that go out in the cold and develop hives – almost an allergy to the cold,” Dr. Beth Brogan, a dermatologist with St. Vincent Medical Group, said.

The reaction happens when people go from warm temperatures to extreme cold. It can cause low blood pressure, fainting or even death.

You should see a doctor if you feel dizzy, have trouble breathing or feel your tongue or throat swelling.

The allergy is rare, but there are also a lot of common ways the cold affects your skin.

“The cold weather is very damaging to our skin, it’s very drying to our skin, it causes redness and swelling and especially that dry itchy skin that we get in the winter,” Dr. Brogan explained.

To minimize the impact, Dr. Brogan says limit your exposed skin, wear a good moisturizer and avoid hot showers.