The woman allergic to winter: 34-year-old with rare condition which can make her skin break out in hives if she gets cold reveals she was called a ‘monster’ at school
- Tammy Rose Bringloe, from Birmingham, said people make fun of her for her skin
- She said ‘anything colder than body temperature’ produces an allergic reaction
- On a few occasions, Tammy said she has even fainted due to a allergic reaction
- READ MORE: This balm will transform your dry and irritated skin
A carer who ‘has an allergy to the cold’ has revealed she was once told she looked like a ‘monster’ due to her skin’s red and blotchy reaction to low temperatures.
Tammy Rose Bringloe, 34, who lives in Birmingham, said people have made fun of her condition throughout her life, saying she must be ‘lying’ or ‘joking’.
Tammy’s condition, known as cold urticaria, affects her on an almost day-to-day basis, as ‘anything colder than (her) body temperature’ produces an allergic reaction of varying severity and length.
She said her skin will usually break out in hives, go ‘red and blotchy’, and then she will experience swelling, itchiness, an intense burning sensation, and sometimes nausea.
Tammy Rose Bringloe, 34, (above) who lives in Birmingham, said people have made fun of her condition throughout her life, saying she must be ‘lying’ or ‘joking’
On a few occasions, Tammy said she has even fainted due to a reaction, but she wants to increase awareness of the condition so that it is taken more seriously and is more widely recognised.
She said: ‘Raising awareness is something that needs to happen because no one knows about it.
‘People are taking the mick and they’re getting bullied for it, and I’m really against that because I had that myself and it can affect your mental health.
‘If I can help someone else, instead of people taking the mick, and (help others) be more understanding – you don’t know the difference it makes on that individual.’
On a few occasions, Tammy said she has even fainted due to a reaction, but she wants to increase awareness of the condition (Pictured: Tammy taking a selfie by the sea)
The 34-year-old’s condition, known as cold urticaria, affects her on an almost day-to-day basis, as ‘anything colder than (her) body temperature’ produces an allergic reaction of varying severity and length
WHAT IS COLD URTICARIA?
Cold urticaria is a skin reaction that causes it to break out in hives when exposed to low temperatures.
Other symptoms include swelling of the hands when holding cold objects, and the lips and throat when drinking chilled beverages.
In severe cases when the entire body is affected, sufferers may experience fainting, a racing heart, shock, and swelling of the tongue and throat, which can prevent breathing.
Anyone can develop cold urticaria, however, people are more at risk if they are young, have recently had an infection, have an underlying condition or have inherited certain genetic traits.
Cold urticaria often goes away on its own but can be treated via antihistamines and avoiding temperatures below 39°F (4°C).
Essential cold urticaria makes up about one to three per cent of all urticaria cases, according to the National Organisation of Rare Disorders.
Urticaria, also known as hives, is estimated to affect around one in five people at some point in their lives, according to the NHS.
Source: Mayo Clinic
Tammy, who is a care and support worker, said she believes she was born with cold urticaria – a chronic, reactive skin disorder which occurs after exposure of the skin to cold temperatures.
She said her mother and brother have the same condition, but she was not officially diagnosed until her mid-20s and she does not have an EpiPen, which is used for self-administration of adrenaline for the emergency treatment of severe allergic reactions.
Wearing layers of clothing to keep warm is one preventative measure, and she takes ‘the strongest antihistamines you can be prescribed’, but she said her reactions are difficult to predict and manage, especially during the winter months.
She added: ‘It took me a long time to get a name for it.
‘Mum just called it our allergy, or our allergy to the cold, or said ‘you’re having an allergy attack’ – that was the term that she always used.
‘So they were the terms that I always used, and people would be looking at me, thinking, ‘what on earth are you talking about?’.
‘People always thought I was joking, because you say ‘I’ve got an allergy to the cold’… and then it wasn’t until I started fainting with it that people thought ‘she isn’t lying about it’.’
Tammy referred to herself as a ‘science experiment’ and said others used to call her ‘a personal thermometer’ or ‘the weather girl’ as her skin would ‘tell you how cold it was’.
During a typical reaction, her hands and face would swell up, her skin would go bright red, and her body would be ‘severely itchy’ – sometimes, she said, it was ‘like her skin (was) on fire’.
She remembers fainting for the first time after she had gone swimming with a friend when she was approximately 11 years old, which was ‘scary’ as she thought ‘her body was shutting down’.
And Tammy struggled during her time at school, as people would call her names and say she was just ‘pretending’ to have an allergy.
‘When it got really bad, my whole face would swell that much that my eyes started closing in,’ she said.
Tammy claimed people with cold urticaria, a skin reaction to the cold (picture), are being bullied, and by raising awareness it will be taken more seriously
Although she looks to have very clear skin here, Tammy believes she was born with cold urticaria (Pictured: Tammy, right, with her mum, Melanie Holmes, left)
‘People are disgusted to look at you and (they would say) ‘you’re a monster’, and I think I ended up just joking about it myself, saying, ‘I’m a tomato on legs’.
‘My hands were a big thing, and people would go, ‘what’s wrong with your hands?’, or people used to think, in the summer, because you don’t expect to get it in the summer, that I was sunburnt.
‘People never believed me, saying ‘why are you pretending?’, so trying to get people to listen (was really difficult) and it did affect my confidence a lot.’
Tammy explained that the bullying and name-calling at school, and the lack of understanding, had a profoundly negative affect – particularly because she felt no one was listening to her.
She said people accused her of ‘trying to get out of PE at school’ and they would ‘laugh’ at her when she tried to explain her condition.
Tammy believes that, with the rise of social media and more open dialogue, she can help to raise awareness of the condition
Tammy referred to herself as a science experiment and said others used to pick on her and call her a personal thermometer or the weather girl
‘It used to be awful when I was a kid and teenager; people are judgmental, everyone’s obsessed with their looks,’ she said.
‘Especially, when I was a teen, everything was about looking good all the time. The magazines were different back then to what they are now.
‘Now with the media… people are more aware and are less judgmental and more accepting, but I didn’t have that, so it was really difficult.
‘It took over (my life) a bit, and, trying to get people to understand it, because it is a bit of a strange allergy, was hard.’
Tammy believes that with the rise of social media she can help to raise awareness of the condition (Pictured: Tammy cuddling with her friend’s dogs)
Tammy believes that with the rise of social media she can help to raise awareness of the condition.
She used to believe her condition was ugly, but now she wants to bare it to the world and hopefully prevent others with cold urticaria from being subjected to abuse or misunderstood.
She added: ‘People are so focused on image and looking good, and I think, from what I had (experienced), people can be so judgmental of other people.
‘But for these people going through these things, their mental health is affected by these comments and people not being aware.
‘Sometimes people might say comments without actually meaning to be horrible, they’re almost oblivious… but I think awareness of anything is a good thing – it makes people reflect more on themselves, (and) it makes people hopefully less judgmental.’
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