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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Cold contact urticaria

Other Names for this Disease
  • Primary idiopathic cold urticaria
  • Urticaria idiopathic cold
  • Urticaria, cold
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Your Question

Is cold urticaria a genetic disease?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is cold contact urticaria?

Cold contact urticaria, often referred to as simply cold urticaria, is a chronic, reactive skin disorder.[1] Major symptoms may include abnormal reddening of the skin, hives, swelling and itching after exposure of the skin to cold, cold water, and cold objects.[1][2][3] Symptoms typically develop within two to five minutes after exposure to the triggering substance or situation and last for one to two hours.[1] The cause of cold contact urticaria isn't clear.[2] Some cases are secondary to underlying conditions (blood conditions or infectious diseases).[3] As much as possible, people with cold contact urticaria should avoid exposure to cold air as well as cold water. Treatment for cold contact urticaria may include antihistamines taken before cold exposure.[2]
Last updated: 2/17/2010

What causes cold contact urticaria?

The cause of cold contact urticaria isn't clear. Certain people appear to have overly sensitive skin cells, either due to an inherited trait or caused by a virus or other illness. Exposure to cold triggers the release of histamine and other immune system chemicals into the skin that cause the redness, itching and other symptoms.[2]
Last updated: 2/17/2010

Is cold urticaria a genetic disease?

Rarely, cold urticaria is associated with an inherited condition called familial cold autoinflammatory syndrome (also known as familial cold urticaria). This condition causes painful welts and flu-like symptoms after exposure to cold. It is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner.[2]
Last updated: 2/17/2010