Imagine being allergic to the slightest touch that when someone lightly runs their finger on your skin it will leave wheals on your dermis that can last for 30 minutes.
This is what people with dermatographia have to endure—the allergy to touch.
Dermatographia is also called ‘skin writing’ because the skin exhibits red marks (wheals) when it is slightly touched.
The person suffering from dermatographia can actually write on his/her skin because of the allergic reaction of the dermis to pressure.
The symptoms of dermatographia are as follows:
- Raised red lines
- Hive-like welts
Although dermatographia can last for months to years the symptoms of this condition often do not last longer than 30 minutes.
In fact, most people with this condition rarely seek medical treatment because the symptoms of dermatographia don’t last too long for it to be severely debilitating.
Unfortunately, the primary cause of dermatographia is still unknown but most experts say that the following factors can contribute to the development of this condition:
- Excessive rubbing from clothes or bed sheets
- Exercises that lead to excessive rubbing
- History of allergies
- Some medications like penicillin
There are also certain factors that can increase your chances of developing dermatographia:
- If you’re an adolescent
- If you have dry skin
- If you have thyroid disease
- If you get your skin scratched often
- If you have a history of dermatitis
- If you have a nerve disorder that results to dry skin
Despite the debilitating effects of dermatographia people can take solace in the fact that only three percent of the population is affected by this condition.
Most of the people suffering from this condition are children and young adults.
Doctors conduct skin tests in order to determine if the patient is indeed suffering from dermatographia.
Unlike other skin tests conducted by allergists, for dermatographia doctors would just need to run through a tongue depressor on the patient’s skin to see if any allergic reactions would occur.
No skin biopsies or even X-rays would be needed to diagnose dermatographia.
Oftentimes, dermatographia does not become a chronic illness meaning it doesn’t reoccur after you’ve had it once.
So most people who suffer from dermatographia do not require medical treatment to curb this ailment because it often goes away on its own.
They can also take over-the-counter medications to relieve the itchiness. Diphenhydramine and cetirizine can help alleviate the symptoms of dermatographia but the side effect of these medications is drowsiness.
People can also try loratadine or fexofenadine but these antihistamines take longer to alleviate the symptoms.
For patients with a more severe case of dermatographia they can opt to undergo phototherapy.
Phototherapy is often used to treat eczema and other skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, nummular eczema and contact dermatitis.
This procedure is quite effective in treating dermatographia and some patients who underwent through this procedure to treat their eczema said that their condition subsided and remained passive for a long time after therapy.
For those who want to try alternative ways to treat their condition they can use the following treatments:
- Tea tree oil
- Rice bran broth
- Aloe vera
Some doctors also say that stress management could also help alleviate or even prevent the symptoms from occurring.
Other ways to help prevent this condition from getting worse is to wear clothing that is not itchy, use soaps that are not fragrant (because these soaps have many chemicals that can irritate the skin), use humidifiers during dry months, avoid scratching your skin, get some exercise and try to manage your stress and moisturize your skin regularly.