“Like a sea of nettles”

“When I went swimming last year with my two children in a lake, and was covered my whole body suddenly with itchy hives,” says Tim Schulz*, 39, from Berlin. “I almost had a Circulatory collapse. The warning shot has shown me that I have to do something.”

Schulz is one of the many people worldwide who suffer from the so-called cold urticaria. This is a special form of the widespread hives (urticaria), caused by the contact of the skin with cooling. It is estimated that about 50,000 people are affected in Germany. The actual number is probably much higher, experts believe, because some of your complaints as pathological.

Life with daily limitations

The symptoms occur in the Affected where direct cooling is applied for example by air, water, cold objects or food on the skin. “A cold urticaria causes exactly the same symptoms such as an Allergy, but it is not a true Allergy,” says Petra Staubach-Renz, specialist in dermatology and venereology at the University hospital of Mainz and Chairman of the urticaria network. “A true Allergy is based on the formation of antibodies against an Allergen. We know in the research so far, but no relevant anti-body against the cold.”

The Affected feel the effects of cold urticaria are often very restrictive: “a Lot of things that make me fun, I can’t enjoy safely,” says Schulz. It’ll start with simple things, like that eating ice cream is always the tongue jucke. After bathing in the lakes of his body felt as if it had fallen into a “sea of nettles. And if I’m riding the bike, I never know exactly if, perhaps, a draught of air leads to areas of wheals on the free skin,” says the father of two children. “You can’t control this disease is just not right.”

A jump into cold water can be life-threatening

Spring and autumn are the worst times of the year are for him: “Apparently, it is for the skin is difficult, with the larger temperature differences, deal with it,” says the father of a family. After all, his disease limits him so far in his career, although he works as a restorer of historic preservation in the fresh air. “I’m packing me so much in warm clothes, that my cold-Allergy causes, so far no problems.”

The consequences of the disease can go about annoying restrictions in everyday life, but also far beyond. So a jump into the cold water cold urticaria can be patients, sometimes even life-threatening. Staubach-Renz warns that it can lead to so-called system reactions of the body, the effect as an allergic shock. “It is believed that many of the people who died when jumping into the cold water of a supposed heart attack, have suffered, in reality, a cold urticaria,” Staubach-Renz.

Threshold values are individually different

Problems in the treatment prepared so far, especially that the threshold values at which the Affected react to the cold, are individually very different. At the skin clinic of the Charité in Berlin there is a special device: It is the individual charm determined threshold of a patient. With the so-called temp test temperatures between 4° C and 44° C, and the skin test.

Tim Schulz has the test procedure after his dramatic experience on the lake last year. He knows now that his threshold is at 18 degrees. At temperatures that lie below, he takes, as a preventive measure, a special antihistamine: “I expose my skin directly to a lower temperature than the 18 degrees, I need to reckon with the symptoms of cold urticaria,” says Schulz. “However, the surface of the skin heats up against it, so that this value can vary slightly.”

The disease usually disappears again

The Dermatologist Staubach-Renz, it is particularly important to take people’s fear of the disease. The Commission recommends the following measures:

  • Cold avoid,
  • over a period of time an antihistamine to take, in order to stabilize the so-called mast cells,
  • Baths be avoided in cold water
  • the skin doctor to a specialized center ask.

And last but not least, there is still the comforting news is that The research was not able yet to find a clear cause for the colder urticaria. Is not clear, however, that it often remains life-long, “it comes spontaneously,” says Staubach-Renz, “she goes but usually at some point again spontaneously.”

* Name changed by the editors