When I was 11, I became allergic to something that gave me hives. I'd get them when I was walking to school in the winter, sometimes when I was playing outside, at my grandparents' house in the mountains, at the beach. And really, what pubescent girl doesn't want to be covered with huge, puffy red blotches when she's wearing a bathing suit?
My hives were undiagnosable for about a year. We changed all kinds of things–the sunscreen, a new winter coat, basically anything that touched my skin was replaced by a new thing, made of something different than the first thing. My mom had to take pictures of the hives, because my allergist couldn't diagnose them without seeing them, and they never appeared at his office. Again, very exciting, to have someone taking your picture while you're covered with red blotches. I'm definitely handing those photos down to the grandkids.
For those of you who have not been to an allergist (and how I envy you!) there's a bizarre skin test that they do to see what you're allergic to. It basically involves drawing a big grid on your back, and then pricking you with various different allergens to see what causes a reaction–each allergen has its own little square. I had two different skin tests, and was diagnosed with a bunch of mild allergies to things like cat dander, a variety of grasses and trees, oranges, etc., but nothing ever caused the kinds of hives that I was getting.
On my third skin test, after all the allergens had been applied, my allergist had a 'eureka' moment, and said, "I'll be right back." He came back in the room and dropped an ice cube on my back, and voila! I was diagnosed with cold urticaria (I'm happy to say that my back never looked quite as bad as that photo). Yes, it's true, I'm allergic to cold. Well, really, negative temperature change. All of the times that I had developed hives were times when I went from being warm to being cold quickly–leaving my warm house to walk to school on a snowy day, swimming in cold water on a hot day–you get the picture.
I immediately made a pitch for my parents to move to Hawaii, but that was shot down by my mom.
I'm bringing this up, because I've been developing some new kinds of hives lately. I'm sort of thinking it might be stress, but the reality is that I just really don't want to go to the allergist again. I'm afraid of what he might spill on me now.