Dermagraphism, Dermatographism, Urticaria, or "Skin Writing"
This page is dedicated to the 5% of the population who suffer with a skin condition called Dermatographic Urticaria also known as Dermatographism, Dermagraphism, or "Skin Writing".
Dermagraphism (Latin for Derma "Skin" Graphy "Write") is a condition where the skin responds to pressure, such as a touch, in an allergic hive-like reaction when no allergen is present. The cause is unknown and there is no cure. Those with the condition have found relief in taking anti-histamines, homeopathic remedies and even acupuncture.
Causes: There is a layer of cells under our skin called "mast cells" which contain histamine. Histamine is a chemical in the body which gets released in the presence of an allergen. Anti-histamines are drugs that can be taken to relieve allergy symptoms (Claritin, Allegra, Zyrtec, Xyzal, etc...). It has been found that people with Dermographism have mast cells with weak cell walls. Often just a firm touch or scratch can break the walls of the mast cells causing histamine to be released into the skin causing a reaction similar to hives at the site of the touch. Rather than a hive showing up, the hive takes the exact form of the scratch or "writing" so that the skin elevates in a 3D effect.
Discomfort: While some may find this reaction to be "cool" the truth is, it is very uncomfortable. The skin begins to itch and get inflamed. Since touch is often the trigger, scratching the skin causes more mast cells to release histamine so the intense itching starts to spread...which causes more scratching and more spreading....it's a vicious circle! Often a small scratch on the neck can lead to a person scratching their entire body down to the feet. The reaction usually disappears in 15-60 minutes with no sign of it ever being present.
Treatment: There is no known cure but anti-histamines have proven to be effective in stopping the reaction as they block the release of histamine. Anti-histamines could be taken daily to prevent outbreaks but as with any medicine, you should check with your physician.
Unfortunately, many physicians aren't familiar with this condition and incorrectly diagnose it as an allergy, hives, or some type of eczema. DERMAGRAPHISM IS NOT AN ALLERGY...There is no allergen. The body reacts to pressure on the skin in the same way it would react to an allergen except that "touch" is the allergen. Some people have claimed Pharmaceutical companies are very well aware of this disorder however little research is done for a cure because it's more profitable for suffers to be forced to take an expensive allergy pill each and every day. Again, this is only theory but it has been noted.
Important: In a very small percentage of patients, there may be an underlying immune system problem such as Lupus, Thyroid disease, Lyme, etc... which may be linked to dermatographism. If you have this condition, you are encouraged to discuss it with your doctor and get tested for all related immune system problems.
You are not alone...you are not possessed...it is not rare...it's statistically very common.