By Liam Bolland
A British family have emigrated to Australia after their son developed a severe allergy to the cold weather.
Finley Mitchell, 10, from Four Oaks, Birmingham, developed an angry, red rash all over his skin every time he stepped outdoors.
His parents, Rebecca, 36, and Martin, 39, made the drastic decision to move half way across the world so Finley could enjoy life free from his allergy to the cold weather.
Finley developed cold urticaria – a raised, itchy rash that appears on the skin when exposed to cold temperatures – in 2009, shortly after a swine flu jab.
He was left in agony as the rashes caused a burning sensation to cover his body – something that devastated both Rebecca and Martin and prompted their big move.
After arriving in Queensland, Australia, just six months ago, the family haven’t looked back since.
And now, thanks to the hotter climate, Finley is able to enjoy life in the sunshine without developing an itchy rash that left his skin red raw.
Rebecca, who works as a freelance photographer, said: “Finley couldn’t walk outside in freezing conditions in Birmingham without his body growing these weird bumps.
“His arms would have rashes which I knew straight away were not normal.
“I always saw him itching himself which was heart-breaking as his mum.”
Finley had a swine flu jab due to his asthma and I thought absolutely nothing of it.
“It turns out one in 1000 children can develop hives from the jab, and Finley’s symptoms began from there.
“It’s not certain that the jab brought on his condition, but as his mother, I’m positive that it was.
“The evening after he had the jab he started being sick and having hallucinations, then his cold allergy started.
“He once ate an ice lolly and his face swelled so badly it looked like he had huge fish lips.
“His skin couldn’t cope with the British winter, and he had to avoid cold water as it would cause his hives to come up.
“His face used to look like it was burning, and I couldn’t bare looking at my son in so much pain.”
Rebecca added: “I took him to a doctor and they jokingly said we’ll need to move abroad, a few years later we were preparing our visas and we were off.
“His condition was so worrying that it could have been fatal, so we had a serious think as a family and we decided to move away.
Doctors initially thought Finley suffered from serious goose bumps, but Rebecca was determined to prove this was not the case.
She said: “I demanded something was done when we visited numerous doctors, Finley couldn’t even sit on a cold pavement without getting hives on his bottom.
“Eventually an allergy specialist assessed him and put an ice cube under his arm, once a bump started to grow we instantly knew it was hives.
“I knew then that moving away was the best thing for us, we were told that if Finley was still suffering by the time he turned 7, it was likely he would have hives forever.”
Upon moving to Australia Finley has come on in leaps and bounds.
Rebecca has told of how his condition has improved hugely and everyone in Australia is bemused by his condition.
She said: “Even when we first moved here, it was winter so we kept Finley away from cold objects or liquid.
“The cold water here still causes hives to grow but his body has got so much better in the past six months.
“He has joined a local soccer club and is settling in so well, he hasn’t needed his inhaler or antihistamine medicine.
“In England he would miss play time, and wouldn’t be able to socialise with friends.
“He was on constant medication in the UK, whereas now we’re in Australia he is drug free, it’s amazing.”
Rebecca added: “My Australian friends don’t believe me when I tell them about his condition, it’s such a rarity here due to the heat.
“I’m hoping that after time his body will get to a point that it fights off the condition completely, although there’s no guarantee that will happen because even doctors don’t know much about it.
“I’d like to try and do all I can to raise awareness for hives, being allergic to the cold is a real condition which can cause serious harm.”