By Josh Saunders
Meet the mum-of-three forced to spend winter inside because she’s fatally allergic to the cold and says the chilling condition has ‘ruined her life’.
Kelly Pouw, 26, from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, initially thought the raised spots on her thighs five-years-ago was ‘heat rash’ before discovering she developed an unusual reaction to anything cold.
She has cold-induced urticaria, a condition that means anything chilly from cold air to snow and even drinks can cause an allergic reaction.
Anything cold touching her skin causes itchy red hives to appear that can grow up to the size of an ‘apple’ causing extreme discomfort as well as risking her throat and tongue to swell-up.
To avoid suffering a fatal anaphylactic shock, the mum is forced to carry an epi-pen with her at all times, and avoids anything cold wherever possible.
Her extreme response to winter means Kelly is unable to leave the house at winter without multiples layers covering her from head to toe – and often means she has to live in ‘hibernation mode’.
Kelly, a full-time parent, said: “It affects me because I have three little ones who love playing outside in the snow and swimming, and I can’t go with them.
“I can pretty much say cold induced urticaria has ruined my life, and while I’m hoping that it does eventually go away I’ve been told it most likely won’t.
“I’m allergic to the cold, it gives me hives and if I’m exposed to it for a long time I can go into anaphylactic shock.
“My reactions are so severe that even when I stepped outside for a few seconds in -23 weather hives appeared in less than a minute.
“My hives range is size anywhere from a blueberry to the size of an apple, they are very itchy, and it feels like my skin is being pulled tight.
“At first it just affected my arms and legs, but now it’s progressed to my hands, neck, ears, palms of my hands, stomach, my feet and tongue.
“I have times where I do worry about suffering a severe reaction, but I always carry my Epi-pen and have even shown my six-year-old daughter how to use it just in case.
“A cold-induced urticaria reaction could be fatal and it’s affect my health very severely so it is concerning, especially as a stay at home mum.
“Now, whenever the cold comes I go into hibernation mode, I stay inside as much as I can and rarely leave the house unless I have to.
“The low temperatures make it hard to do anything, the cold drains my energy on top of getting the hives.”
Kelly says the extreme reactions leave her restricted in what activities she can do on a daily basis.
She added: “It’s really frustrating not being able to do normal things like having snowball fights or playing in the snow with my kids, they have to wait until my husband is home to do that.
“When I have to go outside to walk my son to the bus stop I have to wear a pair of long-johns, three pairs of pants, four shirts, a neck warmer, scarf, mittens and even then, it’s still risky.
“I have to cover myself head to toe to stop a reaction and even in my house I have a blanket on nearly all the time.”
Her reactions started in 2013, but have worsened over the years – now with her avoiding going outside in winter wherever she can.
She says that people laugh and don’t take her condition seriously, despite the fact that a bad reaction could be lethal.
Kelly added: “When I tell people about my condition they look at my like I’m crazy and think I’m joking, others have shown sympathy though.
“As well as the cold weather I can have reactions if I splash cold water on my stomach, if I shower and don’t dry myself quick enough, if there is an air-conditioner on and many other things.”
The limitations of Kelly’s condition mean that husband Tyler, 26, often has to do a lot of the outside chores and activities with the kids during winter.
Kelly added: “It’s very frustrating especially because I have three children my husband has to do everything,
“There are people all around the world with this condition and children too, it must be even more difficult for them trying to go to school in winter.”