Mother-of-two, 29, who had a deadly allergy to the COLD enjoys her first winter with her children after finding a cure to prevent her itchy rashes
- Yvette Ramirez was 12 when she discovered her rashes were caused by the cold
- It prevented her from going outside in the winter and reaching into her freezer
- But doctors only diagnosed the 29-year-old with cold urticaria two years ago
- But after taking two common drugs she has overcome her outbreaks of hives
A mother-of-two with a deadly allergy to the cold has been able to enjoy her first winter with her children after being cured.
Yvette Ramirez was 12 when she realised her rashes were being caused by the wind, air conditioning and even reaching into her freezer.
It prevented her from going outside in the winter, but doctors only diagnosed her with the potentially fatal cold urticaria two years ago.
Any sort of exposure to the cold air would trigger an outbreak of hives on her face, arms and body.
During one of her worst reactions, she passed out for 12 hours after spending an hour outside in the cold air.
But now the 29-year-old has overcome her life-changing condition through a combination of two common drugs.
Ms Ramirez, from Houston, said: ‘If I’m too cold it starts off as an itch, then a tingling type sensation, then it goes into a stinging pain all over my skin.
‘The hives can be really small on my hands but can swell to the size of a bean if I don’t get warm, they can spread until they’re connecting all over my body.
‘Swimming pools, reaching into ice coolers for a beverage always hurt, I would have to stay covered up or not expose myself to cold weather.
‘To prove my allergy really had gone away I jumped into a cold pool and nothing happened to me, I can’t believe I’ve finally found something that works.’
As a child, doctors were uncertain what was responsible for causing her mystery allergy.
She knew that it was exposure to cold stimulants after she once placed her arm on a cold table and it became itchy.
But it was only after posting a picture of her reactions online two years ago that she discovered other people suffered from the same thing – cold urticaria.
To battle her sensitivity to the cold, she used to wrap herself in layers from head to toe to combat weather’s effect on her skin.
She even had to cover-up with scarves and long-sleeved clothing indoors to avoid a reaction from air-conditioning units.
In the winter, she would always wear gloves and even while walking on cold tile flooring she would have to wear slippers to prevent a reaction.
The allergy sometimes caused her fingers to become so swollen that her rings were cutting off circulation.
Often the outbreaks took an hour to go down, but sometimes the reaction was much worse than that.
But people often assumed her allergy wasn’t real and would ridicule her.
She said: ‘I hate explaining my condition because people think I’m either being a “big baby” or making it up, they only ever belittled it and didn’t take it seriously at all.
WHAT IS COLD URTICARIA?
Cold urticaria is a skin reaction to cold that causes red, itchy hives – but the severity varies widely.
Swimming in cold water is the most common cause of a whole-body reaction.
But temperatures lower than 4°C (39°F) and wind can also trigger reactions in sufferers.
It can lead to very low blood pressure, fainting, shock and even death.
Cold urticaria occurs most frequently in young adults – but it tends to clear up within a few years.
Experts are unsure how it is caused, but many assume it is due to them having sensitive skin cells from an inherited trait.
Treatment usually includes taking antihistamines and avoiding cold air and water.
Source: Mayo Clinic
‘Whenever I would tell people I’m “allergic to cold” they wouldn’t believe me and would say “yeah right” or “me too” showing their goosepimples.
‘But it’s a serious allergy with a possibly deadly outcome, you can go into anaphylactic shock like with a peanut allergy.’
Four months ago she started a combination of antihistamine Allegra and Zantac, a drug commonly used to treat heartburn, and her allergy has cleared.
And since her medication success, she can’t wait to catch up on activities she previously couldn’t partake in – such as playing in the snow or enjoying an ice cream.
She added: ‘It makes me so excited, it’s a whole new world thinking of things I’ve never done.
‘I never thought it would work, I’d tried the one drug separately and still used to get hives, but for some reason the combination works for me.
‘Before there were places I couldn’t go because I knew they were too cold for me, but now I get out and do them.
‘I definitely want to try new things and travel to the places I couldn’t go before, I can go hiking and do outdoorsy kind of things now.’
Information about the condition can be found at www.allergyuk.org and the helpline can be contacted on 01322 619 898.