Mystery Reaction


The other night when it warm, my kids filled the little pool and were splashing around for a while. When I was putting on my 5-year old son's sneakers, I saw that he had hives from his knees down to his toes and a few on his arms. We didn't know what he was reacting to. He had not eaten anything recently, there was no known food in the area unless it was on another child, or it could be the toys that had been away all winter(possibly mold)??? I immediately brought him inside, scrubbed him with soap and water and gave Benadryl. He had no other symptoms, so I tried to remain calm and called our allergist and he said to give the Benadryl every 4-6 hours. He ate dinner, but about 1 hour later he said that he felt like throwing up, his throat felt funny, and he did not feel well. Now, we had 3 systems so we needed to act. Do we give Epi and call ambulance? He still looked fine, but who knows what will happen next and in what time period. I decided to drive him to the hospital (10-15 min away) with a neighbor, and if he looked at all worse, we would give Epi. Well, we got to the hospital, and while we were waiting to be seen (busy night), his symptoms got better with no additional meds besides the initial Benadryl. They released him, but I waited near the hospital for a while (he fell asleep in the car), until I felt sure that there would not be a delayed reaction. By that time, it was @ 6 hours from the initial reaction. He is fine, but I am left with many questions. What was the cause of the initial reaction? Were the feeling like throwing up and the funny feeling in throat part of the reaction or do they have other causes? He never actually threw up and he had felt that way two days before, and my older son had been sick a week ago. Also, after we came inside, there was a storm with a lot of wind, which really blew the pollen all around and maybe that gave him the feeling in his throat. Or maybe it was do to my staring at him and asking him every 5 minutes how he felt? Sorry, so long, any ideas?

On Apr 22, 2002

I don't often get hives from my EA's but my throat does swell up- if feels kind of like when your tonsils are swollen and is irritating when I try to swallow more than sore. My legs used to break out when I was exposed to grass...

With that many systems involved, I would definately bring it up with the allergist. Do you know if your son has any EAs?

On Apr 22, 2002

Grass is what came to my mind first. My PA son doesn't have a problem with grass, but does with hay. I suppose it could have been a virus, but I imagine the hives would not have been only from the legs down.

I'd definitely bring this up with the allergist, especially with more shorts weather coming soon.

Good luck!


On Apr 22, 2002

He did test low level allergy to grasses, but has never reacted, and he is always rolling around in the grass. My first instinct is something in the water, maybe pollen, mold, or something from another person. Can there be enough of the unknown allergen to cause a reaction?

On Apr 22, 2002

Sorry to hear about your son's reaction. Had you fertilized recently? That's the only thing I can think of that might be the cause. Hope you find out what it is and can avoid it in the future.


On Apr 22, 2002

Have you considered the temperature of the water? Was it fairly cold compared to say, bathwater temperature? Here's an excerpt from an article on urticaria (hives):


Wheeling occurs with exposure to cold. Characteristic urticaria appears on exposed areas on a cold day. Handling of cold objects causes immediate local reaction. Swelling of the mouth and oesophagus may occur on drinking cold water. Extensive cold urticaria may be associated with systemic symptoms such as faintness, wheezing and palpitations. Syncope can occur when the patient immerses in cold water. Diagnosis is established by placing an ice cube (wrapped in plastic bag) on the skin for 2 to 10 minutes. Wheals form on rewarming. In some cases, cold water at 7C is more effective in bringing out the wheal. Occasionally cold urticaria is associated with circulating cryoglobulin, cold haemolysin or cryofibrinogen.

Avoid swimming in cold water. Antihistamine treatment is partially effective - Cyproheptadine may be the drug of choice. Doxepin and ketotifen may also be useful.

Could this be it? Here is the link to the entire article - [url=""][/url] - it's very informative when dealing with "mystery hives".


On Apr 23, 2002

Yes, my son reacts on his hands when they are exposed for a long period of time to the cold. He doesn't seem to react to the dry winter cold, but the moist fall and spring cold. It can get very uncomfortable for him if his hands get wet and cold, ie. itching, redness, hives and some swelling.

On Apr 23, 2002

The cold water was going to be my guess, but I didn't have the info to back it up. (Thanks, Carolyn!)

ACBaay, How's your son now?

On Apr 24, 2002

Thanks for all the support and suggestions! He is great. No additional reactions after the hospital visit. The water was reeeeally cold, so although he has never reacted to cold before, and we do join a pool, that could be it. I guess I'll just have to watch and see. Thanks again, Andrea

On Apr 24, 2002

I thought I read somewhere that the test for the cold hives was to apply and ice cube to the skin and see what happens. Don't leave it for too long though or you can cause mild frostbite!

On Apr 24, 2002

Did you recently apply lawn chemicals to your grass? Or did you leave the pool out where the chemicals may have been sprayed on it?

On May 3, 2002

My son has had the same type of hive reaction you are talking about since he was two any time he went in a kiddie pool (but not a big one) or ran through the sprinkler. No one could ever figure out what it was and why it only happens in certain situations. We now know the answer and it isn't a good one. He has been diagnosed with a Type 1 latex allergy from being exposed to latex gloves as a infant in childcare. Guess what those garden hoses are lined with. Even the allergist did not make the connection and it was only after I saw the lists of products to avoid did I realize what had been happening for the past few years. I would ask your allergist to test for latex allergy and insist on it if they resist. I was initially told that there was no way that my child could be allergic to latex but luckily the allergist was concerned enough to test him when I explained that his face swelled after putting on a latex glove.