Things My Mother Did That Were Terrible
An Ordinary Day Like Every Other

A Hot (& Cold) Mess

Today's post title is a reference to me, and my current physical state, right now.

First, I managed to thwack off a not-insignificant chunk of my index finger last night while trying to cut a sweet potato in half with a crappy dull chef's knife.

Photo (70)

It's DISGUSTING. Like, I didn't even realize what I'd done until I noticed that there was a flap of skin sort of merrily hanging there, semi-inside out. And although it's my left hand, it's still one of those injuries that I can't stop accidentally tapping, hitting, bumping, jamming, what-have-you. I'm trying to type right now with it pointed up and away from the keyboard because it huuuuuurts, but then I go to like, rub my nose or something and jab the bandaged finger in my eye, then I yelp and flinch and manage to smack it on my desk on the way down. Maybe later it'll get run over by a car or hacked off in the garbage disposal. 

Second, and the reason I didn't just go with just the classic "hot mess," is because the cold weather is playing a major part in my State o' Mess.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before but I have a very annoying allergy — the fancy name for it is cold urticaria; the less-fancy name for it is "Hi, it's kinda cold outside today. You can tell it's cold outside because my face is COVERED IN HIVES." The allergy is particularly bad this time of year, when the DC-area weather makes its first real drop in temperature and is also kind of blustery and windy. The wind doesn't just blow on my face, it full-on backhands me until my cheeks are red and raised. And itchy and hot. I get lines of splotchy hives around my eyebrows and jawline and yes, they are very noticeable and very, VERY attractive. 

But the REAL fun actually starts once I'm back inside and warming up — that's when the face hives, (sensing their imminent destruction, perhaps) spread down my neck and shoulders and start popping up all over my chest, back, stomach and arms. Maybe a couple behind my knees, just for kicks, especially if I'm wearing skinny jeans and can't easily yank the legs up to scratch and gawk at my own weirdness. 

AND THEN, for the rest of the day, my skin remains on High Irritation Alert and will break out in raised welts at the slightest provocation. The touch of my shirt against my shoulders, for example, or the slight pressure of a sliding bra strap. I have to wash off any makeup I'm wearing or my face will continue to flare up over and over. If I forget and absentmindedly scratch at an unrelated arm itch, the tracks of my nails immediately appear raised up on my skin. Look, Ma! It's a demon! Time for my seasonal exorcism, I reckon!

If you go and do an image search for cold uticaria (which I would not necessarily recommend, but hey, go ahead and knock your lunch off its axis if you want to), you'll eventually come across people having a little fun with the condition by writing and drawing on themselves with a fingernail and watching the red welt-y magic come to life. 

I started taking Zyrtec this week which usually gets my reactions down to a more manageable level (like I can keep my makeup on without my entire face turning inside out), but it takes a few days to kick in and I am clearly not there yet. Between taking breaks to scratch at myself and then to freak out because I accidentally tried to scratch at myself with my bloody zombie finger, I have been typing this entry for approximately 17 straight hours. 

If anybody needs me, I'll be in my belltower. 



Friend of mine used to the cut the crap out of herself while cutting sweet potatoes WHEN SHE WAS PREGNANT and didn't know it yet.

Just sayin'.

Have you considered reinforcing the end of your finger with a box of kleenex or perhaps taping it to the 2nd finger which is longer? Could protect it a bit more. Otherwise BANG ON. LOL


It was the sweet potato's fault. Clearly. Why're they so much denser and harder to maneuver than a regular ol' apparently bad for you now because everything white is bad haaaaaa how's it feel! (thinking of blackballed, black listed, black sheep). No white bread, no white potatoes, no white rice, OH MY GOD ARE THOSE GRITS YOU'RE EATING?

Get you some synthetic weed. You'll be higher than any one person ever needs to be, you'll see zombies with chopped up fingers coming to kill you BUT YOU WON'T BE ITCHY.


I didn't realize you had cold urticaria. My father in-law and husband both have it and then my 4yo inherited it as well. She is the only female so I am very interested to know how it will affect her. Good to know on the makeup irritation.

:( No bueno on the finger cut. That just sucks.


"apparently bad for you now POTATO." Gah. You'd think I'd be able to write my semi-unfunniness at least the way I meant to seeing how all my digits are intact.


I did the SAME thing with a sweet potato and dull knife to my left pointer finger last year. I called my hippie, herbalist friends (yay for hippie herbalists!) and they recommended an herb called plantain. Get you some of that. MAGIC. I had taken a huge chunk of my finger off and that stuff healed me quick. :)Feel better soon!


Get thee one of these:

I haven't cut the tip of my finger off, but I'm a girly girl who plays hockey and I routinely snap off nails and when they snap below the quick I am reminded exactly what fingernails protect us from- all the bumps and taps and nose scritches. These babies really work to buffer the impact away from the boo-boo.

Twice Five Miles

My skin does that too! (The welty writing-on-yourself thing.) But mine doesn't seem to be cold-related. Thankfully. I guess.


my son seemed to have a mild version of cold urticaria this summer. At least that's what the doc decided he had because every time he got in a swimming pool prior to mid-June he broke out in hives all over his body. He had to start taking Claritin before going swimming at camp. We haven't had any outbreaks because of cold air though. We had I first seriously cold day here today so I should probably check him for hives.


I HAVE THAT TOO! Cold uticaria that is, all my fingers are still intact. BUT for special fun bonus points, I'm Canadian so that means for like eight months of the year I become a hermit. The first time it happened to me was after I had my son, and my husband said to me "what's wrong with your face?!" Which was a wonderful introduction to the painful world of being allergic to the cold. And I get hives ALL OVER my body when it gets cold here not just my face, if you know what I mean. And yeah the warming up process is way more painful than the initial phase.


I have both cold urticaria and exercise induced urticaria. It's a duo of itchy, swelly, awesomeness! I love it the most when I'm out in public on a really cold day and it decides to flare up. Dates were also always really fun in the winter time. GAH! Giant red swollen face! Welts on my eye lids! Don't you want to date me????


Long time reader, first time commenter, solar uticaria sufferer! (Exactly what you have but the opposite - sun-induced!) MetroGel plus a daily allergy pill has pretty much changed my life. As long as I stick to the regimen, I'm basically asymptomatic. You might want to ask your doctor if MetroGel would work for you...


I have exercise-induced uticaria! Which, let me tell you, does not help with the motivation to exercise. I (literally) feel your pain.


If I had a nickel for every time I myself doing something, I would have enough to pay my medical bills. Just this summer I took and exacto-knife almost though my knuckle. Whoops. It's common practice now to not allow me near the "sharp" things. Sorry about the weird hives though, the closest I have is a metal allergy, but that just makes me need really nice jewelry so it's almost a bene :)


I have urticaria that flares up with seasonal allergies (pollen, ragweed, etc.). It got to max misery point until I finally saw a dermatologist- after some skin tests and monitoring, he confirmed my hives were all 'bout my regular allergens and told me to take a DOUBLE dose of my regular allergy med (Allegra) every day during my peak allergy times of year. Magic! A single dose only provided a bit of relief, but the double daily dose made the hives all but disappear. He told me the double dose was not harmful, just more expensive. Several years later, I dose according to symptoms, and it still works great. But it does take a couple of days to kick in.


I am an RN at an allergy clinic. We have our urticaria patients take Zantac (Ranitidine) 150mg, twice a day, every day. Take it in addition to the Zyrtec. It is am over the counter reflux med but blocks other receptors that Zyrtec does not hit.


Yup I was told to take Zantac as well for allergy stuff and I believe I was told my son could take it as well to top off his allergy meds he already takes. Odd the different combos of meds that block this and do that..I was taking a blood pressure med for my Meniere's Disease.

Sue W.

I tried to cut the tip of my left middle finger off two weeks ago while pruning bushes in the yard. Mistook the finger for a limb. Should have gone for stitches, but imma big gurl, so I butterflied it instead! I finally last night was able to cut that dead flap of skin that I "should" have had stitched off. I can see it healing, so I feel your pain. Meanwhile, I'm furiously knocking wood that I do not suffer with allergies. I cannot even imagine what you are going through with that.


When I started to Google Cold Uticaria I was offered a search for "cold uterus". I don't know how or what the hell that could be, but it sounds maybe even worse than your affliction.

Julie T.

I love how concerned Ceiba looks in the background. She's really getting distinguished in her old age.


Dang. I think moving to Florida sounds like your best move.


Mark 2014 calendar to start allergy pills Nov. 1. Best wishes.... it sounds AWFUL!


Wow, allergies suck. Normally I put an ice pack on hives to keep from itching--can't imagine getting hives from cold. I'll double up on my Zyrtec when I'm extra itchy. Maybe try that?

Holly W.

I love how even your posts about about how not-so-smoothly life is going are somehow helpful. My nephew has been getting hives for the past two weeks (we live farther north than you, up in PA) only randomly on and off for a day and then they go away for a few. Muuuuuch like the cold weather the past two weeks. So I forwarded your symptoms to my SIL - thanks for sharing!


Hot mess:


I had cold urticarial periodically through my teens. Periactin was my go-to medicine for it, though I think it may cause drowsiness. I recall taking it at night and it seemed to remain effective for my walks to/from school in the winter. It also had the added benefit of being an appetite booster, which I needed as a very skinny kid who didn't eat well at all.


Holy shit Amalah. I didn't know such a think existed-my 11 year old has this and I never dreamed it could be dangerous. Normally she gets it on her face and arms and legs when she jumps in the pool. She's also gotten it at cool moist places like an aquarium. Never EVER thought it had any danger associated. Thanks for educating me.


Seriously? I have chronic urticaria that kicked in for the first time after I gave birth to my twins. It is SO annoying, but not cold related. Alcohol/lack of sleep/stress/tight clothes/spicy food/hot water/etc related. So, pretty much everything I love and/or can't get away from. I am on three separate prescriptions just to control it but even when I remember to take them I still get flareups sometimes. I don't know anyone else who has anything similar so I love reading all the comments to this!


The cold urticaria! I have it! The severe kind! It is really not as exciting as all these exclamation points make it out to be, but it IS exciting to know one more person (for a total of four) with CU!


I feel your urticarial pain. My brand is idiopathic, which is way fun, and turns up every 7 years or so for about a year. Dermatographism always looked pretty cool though. I wish you much non-itching.

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