Snow covered roads, travel chaos and industrial unrest aren’t the only problems we’ll have to face this winter. Our skin suffers too, as the so-called ‘cold allergies’ strike. Victims of cold allergies often don’t even know the reason behind their suffering. Moreover, many clinicians consider such reactions as pseudo allergic. After all, snow and frost don’t contain allergens, unlike pollen from plants or animal hair. But in medicine, there is an understanding of something called a mechanical stimulus.
A physical factor acts like an allergen here—in this case, cold air, which causes local cooling of tissues and damage to the cell wall. There is an accumulation of specific proteins called cryoglobulins that trigger an allergic reaction, and a person may notice redness of the skin and feels tingling, dryness and itching. Stay out in the cold for a long time, and swelling and even blisters may appear, worsened by a swelling of the nasopharyngeal mucosa.
When the person returns to a warm room, their condition improves, but the troubles may not end there. As the temperature rises, moisture begins to evaporate from the skin’s surface faster, causing the skin to become drier and more sensitive; it can also begin to peel, and crack. It’s very important to understand that a cold allergy is a deviation from the norm and requires treatment by an allergist, rather than observation by a dermatologist, since the allergist will work with the causes of the disease, rather than its external manifestations. To diagnose the condition, there is a special cold test: the doctor applies ice or cold water compresses to the skin and monitors the reaction.
Minimize your exposure to low temperatures, in other words, stay out of the cold as much as possible. If possible, cover open areas of the body, especially when skiing and skating.
Before going out into the cold, carefully apply a nourishing (not moisturizing) cream that contains natural oils (such as olive, apricot, peach, or shea butter).
- To relieve itching, make compresses with a room-temperature infusion of green tea, parsley roots and dill seeds.
- If an allergic reaction occurs, take antihistamines.
- If your condition worsens, such as with difficulty breathing or swelling of the mucus membranes, urgently call a doctor.
- Prepare in advance for the winter period through acclimation: perform hand baths and wash with contrasting water with gradual decreases in temperature.
Dr Inna Szalontay, Founder
The Winter Collection
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