By Josh Saunders
A mum-of-three whose unusual and potentially-fatal allergy to the cold that causes her body to erupt in hives, speaks out after people think it’s a joke.
Alysha McEntire, 26, from Cleveland, Oklahoma, has cold-induced urticaria – a reaction causing histamine and other chemicals to be released into the bloodstream.
She initially believed the itchy blotches were caused by taking black elderberry tablets, but after quitting them her symptoms only intensified.
Soon she realised the spots that ranged from a mosquito bite to the size of a US quarter (UK two pence piece) and larger, occurred after interaction with cold stimulus.
Anything from being outside to sitting on a cold floor and even rain can cause a reaction, which could be deadly if she went into anaphylactic shock.
The mum now wraps-up in numerous layers to avoid any skin being exposed and tries to avoid being outside in the cold whenever possible.
She says that people don’t believe her allergy is real – often considering it a ‘joke’ – and not appreciating its seriousness and even trying to dismiss it as ‘bed bugs’ or ‘dry skin’.
Alysha, a certified nursing aid, said: “I first noticed my arms were itchy, then by morning they were full of hives.
“I thought it was just dry skin on my arm but as the night progressed, they looked like little mosquito bites.
“By the morning my entire body was covered in hives, my body was super sensitive at the time.
“If I walked outside and then back in my face would be covered even my lips and if I sat on a cold floor, hives would appear on my legs.
“I have noticed if I get into my car when it’s not warmed-up my ankles will get hives or if I have holes in my jeans they will appear there too.
“It can take five to ten minutes for a reaction to happen, my allergist advised that I avoid the cold as any allergy can lead to anaphylactic shock.
“People don’t know it’s a thing or a possibility, they think it’s hilarious as they have never heard of it.
“I mostly get reactions of people being shocked to know that being allergic to the cold is a real thing. Most people think I’m joking,
“It can be frustrating when people make jokes because they just don’t get it, during winter I try to stay inside as much as possible unless I have to go to the store or to work.
“It did especially suck when we had snow as I couldn’t play outside with my children, I tried it for a couple of seconds but other went back inside and avoided it.”
Alysha went through several beliefs relating to the cause of the symptoms – believing it was dry skin to bug bites and food allergies.
She said: “I started getting them after taking elderberry tablets, so thought I was allergic to them and stopped, but I kept getting the hives.
“I had the hives consistently for 16 days straight, they came on my legs and anything that came into contact with cold weather.”
After going to hospital, Alysha was advised to take Benadryl by her doctor, but the mum found it only staved off the symptoms for an hour.
She experiences a red small rash that can grow inside that is very itchy and uncomfortable, but in a worst-case scenario can cause a person’s throat to close-up.
Now she is required to take three allergy medications twice a day to manage her symptoms.
Alysha said: “The biggest i would say were around the size of a quarter, but they all welt on top of each other – so I’m getting hives on top of hives.
“When I stopped taking the meds, I started getting them all over again.
“One day it was raining and where ever the raindrops hit my skin, a hive the size of a mosquito bite popped up.”