“Everyone thinks I’m flirting”: Girls about cold allergies

LIFE IN A WIDE LAND WHERE IS COLD AT LEAST SIX A YEAR requires special endurance – and if there are no problems with central heating and adequate clothing these days, then not everyone’s skin is cold tolerant. We asked several heroines with a hypersensitivity to cold about how it manifests itself, and asked immunologists to explain if cold allergy really exists and what can be done about it. 

This problem appeared at school: my eyes began to water very much on the street. At first I thought it was due to the wind, but then I realized that I was reacting to the cold. As a result, I stopped using mascara – first in winter, early spring and late autumn, and then the rest of the time. True, I can’t refuse eyeliner – and this is practically the only cosmetic product, except for foundation and blush, which I use. I have learned to “cry” gently and always keep paper handkerchiefs and a mirror with me to control the situation. There are no painful sensations, the only discomfort is uncontrollable streams of tears, which are very unpleasant to wipe in the cold; if napkins are not at hand, woolen mittens scratch damp skin.

I didn’t go to a doctor – I’m just used to it, and besides, I don’t feel pain or discomfort. I don’t like the cold, I’m always very cold, but this was never a reason to leave. Frost is, of course, unpleasant, but very beautiful.

It all started a couple of years ago, in the fall. It was not very cold, but windy and damp, it was raining, I was carrying an umbrella, and the tips of my fingers on my hands suddenly began to itch very badly, were swollen and reddened. Everything passed when I went into a warm room and warmed up. Since then, it has often happened: the tips of the fingers and toes swell, and sometimes the ears swell. One day last winter, my cheekbones swollen from the cold and my eyes swollen – I went into the subway, looked at myself in the mirror and was horrified.

I tried to drink antihistamines in the morning – then the allergy did not appear, but I do not want to take pills for seven to eight months a year. I do not leave Moscow anywhere during the cold period, since childhood I have become accustomed to all kinds of allergies, so I am not very afraid of them – but this is certainly very uncomfortable.

Upon contact with the cold, my skin reacts – though not always, and I cannot identify the exact pattern; a red rash appears, elbows, knees and lips dry, and in the worst case, the general well-being worsens. At the age of fifteen, I went to the doctor, he said what the name of this phenomenon is (I don’t remember now), and advised me to take vitamin D and go to the solarium. Since then we all thought that the solarium was our friend, I periodically sunbathed, but without fanaticism. Intolerance manifests itself at any time of the year – for example, in summer it happens from cold water. In winter, I strive to leave for warmth, but not because of allergies, but simply because life is more pleasant this way. The worst thing was just in the summer, when the hot water was turned off – the issue was resolved by hiring a housekeeper. 

It’s unpleasant that when you tell people about your cold allergy, most people decide that you are either flirting or just lying. 

Sensitivity to cold appeared in me ten years ago and is manifested mainly by dry skin, redness, peeling, itching. When it is very cold, it happens that the skin on the face “peels off” – not entirely, of course, but not pleasant enough. Dryness is such that everything burns and hurts. Once my mother sent me to a doctor I knew – I was told that this is a so-called cold allergy, which can be corrected either by a strict diet (which will not completely save, but will help reduce the main symptoms), or by moving to a country with a more suitable climate.

The winters in Moscow have not been very harsh lately, so I can endure them easily. I try to pay more attention to skin care, primarily hydration, I drink a lot of water, do not forget about normal nutrition. I try not to be outside for a long time during the frost. In the last couple of years, I have been thinking about going to warmer regions for the winter. It’s not working yet, but I really want to – in addition to skin problems, I just don’t stand the cold very well, I’m very cold and suffer from the fact that I have to deprive myself of long walks in winter, when it’s already sad and gloomy.

Since childhood, in winter, my hands were covered with red spots and blisters, and itched a lot. My mother took me to the doctors, but for some reason they associated these symptoms with food allergies – they forbade me to eat red vegetables and fruits and smeared my hands with a solution of fucorcin. Gradually, the symptoms of my “allergy” began to disappear – either the treatment helped, or I learned not to go out without mittens. 

Now I don’t use anything for the health of my skin, except for a moisturizer, but I still don’t go out without gloves and almost always hide my hands in my pockets. It rarely happens that the hands become covered with red spots, but after a couple of days this goes away. Gloves I try to choose woolen with lining, and even better – mittens. I have come to the conclusion that I have contact dermatitis associated with cold. I didn’t think to move because of dermatitis, because I learned to live quite comfortably with it and nothing bothers me.

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