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Teenager's Allergy To Cold Means Walk To School Could Kill Him

Emily Brown

Published 
| Last updated 

Teenager's Allergy To Cold Means Walk To School Could Kill Him

A teen from Essex has to be driven to school every day for fear his allergy to the cold could send him into anaphylactic shock.

Calum Courtney, 14, can't go outside for more than 15 minutes without his skin breaking into red, itchy rashes as a result of a condition called cold urticaria.

The allergy flares up if the temperature is less than 24°C, meaning his family have the heating on full all day, every day, and it is so bad that he can even break out in hives if an arm or leg isn't covered by the duvet while he's sleeping.

Calum breaks out in hives if he gets cold. Credit: Kennedy News and Media
Calum breaks out in hives if he gets cold. Credit: Kennedy News and Media

Calum is unable to take part in activities such as ice skating or swimming, and had to give up playing football after he was diagnosed with the condition 10 years ago.

The teen's mum, Tupney Courtney, said the condition affects 'everything' for Calum as a teenager, explaining he has to 'keep coming back inside' if it is too cold outside, and that he 'always gets really hot because [his parents] have to wrap his skin up'.

"He breaks out on whatever part of the body is cold. At first, it's the parts of the body that aren't clothed like his face and hands. If he's out long enough, it's everywhere even with three layers of clothes."

The mum said the condition starts with 'little red dots' which look like chicken pox, before they 'get bigger and join together'.

Calum's mum fears he could go into anaphylactic shock. Credit: Kennedy News and Media
Calum's mum fears he could go into anaphylactic shock. Credit: Kennedy News and Media

Calum has also felt as though his skin is 'burning' if he's in water which is too cold, according to his mum. "That's a different feeling and he comes over not well, like he's going to pass out," she said.

"I think that's the early stages of anaphylactic shock. You have to really warm him up and try and get him warm form the inside with hot drinks. You have to think of everything. If he hurts himself, he can't have a cold compress."

Tupney has expressed fear that anaphylactic shock is 'not beyond the realms of possibility', and could be deadly as he has not been prescribed an epi pen.

The mum drives Calum to school every day as he wouldn't be able to make the 45-minute journey without breaking out in hives. He can't wear T-shirts for school as even just a cold desk 'makes him come up in hives', and Calum has to get changed if his clothes get damp in the rain to avoid further breakouts.

Calum has to constantly cover up. Credit: Kennedy News and Media
Calum has to constantly cover up. Credit: Kennedy News and Media

The family first became aware of Calum's condition after he erupted in hives while playing outside at a family wedding. The parents gave him anti-histamines and brought him indoors, but the reaction kept happening over the next few months. A doctor later confirmed the hives were caused by the cold, but is said not to have offered ay further referrals.

Calum's parents are now hoping to find a cold urticaria specialist and raise awareness of the condition.

Featured Image Credit: Kennedy News & Media

Topics: Health, Science

Emily Brown
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