By Josh Saunders
Girl whose deadly allergy to winter was confused for a ‘runny nose’ and eczema has flown to Mexico to dodge cold-induced reactions.
Just a minute outside in chilly weather can cause Harlow Bydzovsky, 5, to breakout in itchy hives that range from the size of a small dot to a coin.
Anything from being outdoors, bathing in cold water to sitting on cool granite work surfaces can cause her skin to react due to the condition cold-induced urticaria.
She first developed raised rashes two-years-ago, but now it’s worsened to the point where her throat and tongue have started to swell too – meaning she needs to carry an epi-pen at all times.
Doctors were unaware what was causing her unusual reactions, dismissing it as an allergy to pollen, eczema and even a ‘runny nose’.
Until mum Tarrah Bydzovsky, 33, of Stillwater, Minnesota, USA, discovered a Facebook support group showing others who had the same symptoms and reaction to the cold.
Tarrah, a nurse, said: “Sometimes just going from our house to the car on the driveway causes her face and hands to break-out in hives from less than a minute in the cold.
“When she was outside one night, her face broke out in hives and her neck was swelling up, she told me that her throat was itchy, which was quite worrying.
“The way she sometimes reacts is just falling to the floor and scratching her entire body, she rolls around and you can tell it’s really frustrating and itchy for her.
“I told the allergy doctors, that whenever she went into the cold water she would get hives, but they didn’t know anything about cold-induced urticaria.
“Over the years, medical professionals have believed it was caused by tree pollen, eczema, some have laughed at me and one paediatrician claimed she just had a ‘a runny nose’.
“It’s scary because there could be other kids who have this too and their doctors are unaware, so they could be going outside in the cold, which could send them into anaphylactic shock that could be fatal
“Thankfully, I found a group on Facebook of other parents who were trying to raise awareness of cold-induced urticaria and from there I knew that was what my daughter had.”
To avoid further reactions in her hometown whose temperatures can drop as low as -51 Degrees Celsius (-60Degrees Fahrenheit), Tarrah whisked her daughter off to Mexico, while awaiting an appointment with specialists at Mayo Clinic.
Tarrah added: “We came to Mexico as she has an appointment with Mayo Clinic, for that so can’t be on medication for five days before the appointment.
“I didn’t want to keep her at home in -20 so we brought her here, I want to try to find a way to fix the problem rather than keeping her medicated.
“We took her somewhere that gives her a smaller chance of having a reaction.
“Even though the risks are significantly reduced, she still has a couple of little hives from swimming in the pool and even the cool breeze from the ocean is giving her hives.”
Tarrah hopes to avoid keeping her daughter on medication for the rest of her life and now has a formal diagnosis from Mayo Clinic to help school teachers understand the seriousness of her condition.
Additionally, she explains that when talking about cold-induced urticaria to others they believe she is ‘joking’ and dismiss it.
Tarrah said: “It’s scary, people aren’t aware of how dangerous this can be, if she was out in the cold too long she could go into anaphylactic shock.
“When I tell people about my daughter’s condition, they laugh or joke around saying things like ‘Yeah right’ but she is actually allergic to the cold.
“I worry that people think I’m nuts when I say my kid is allergic to the cold, so we’re trying to get a doctor’s note and more information for her school.”
Until then, Harlow has antihistamines to try to reduce her reactions, in addition to fully covering up when she’s out in the cold.
Tarrah said: “She is only five-years-old so doesn’t have all the words to express how she is feeling when it happens, so we have to take precautions currently.
“If I know she is going to be playing outside then I have to give her two different types of antihistamines and her Epi-pen just in case.”