Dermographism

Dermographism or skin writing disease is a skin ailment that has been affecting me for the last two years.

As suffers of this condition (which is also known as dermatographism, derma graphism, dermatagraphism, etc.) already know, there are not a lot of answers about why this skin condition occurs or why it started in the first place. There are some treatments options available, but only to relieve or partially relieve the dermatographism symptoms. There is no cure.

Fortunately, dermographism is not a deadly condition!

However, it is still a very bothersome and stressful skin condition that I have been dealing with every day for the last two years. It is for this reason that I decided to put this web page together. I would like to tell individuals suffering from dermographism my story so that perhaps I can help them deal with their own condition. My dermographism story is below.

I also hope that individuals visiting this page can also help me by filling in the form below with their own dermographism story.

Here is my dermographism story.....

Pre-October 2003

I have always been in good general health. I have also never had any food or other types of allergies. However, for a couple of years prior to October 2003, I started to occasionally break out into hives shortly after consuming red wine. The hives would last only about 15 to 30 minutes. The puzzling thing was that it would not occur all the time with red wine. Sometimes it would occur with beer and sometimes only when I consumed red wine with either cheese or tomato sauce. The only constant was that the reaction was not consistent. I mentioned this to my physician and he did not recommend allergy tests. Since the reaction did not occur all the time, I basically accepted it.

I don’t know if this type of allergic reaction had anything to do with the development of dermatographism later on, but I mention this in case other individuals experienced anything similar.


October 2003 – March 2004

Starting in October of 2003, I began to experience severe red flushing of the face. This would occur daily. Sometimes the flushing would be so severe that my face would be extremely red and hot and require cold compresses to soothe the uncomfortable feeling. My physician checked my blood pressure and he also performed blood tests. Every test came out normal. He suggested that it might be stress and suggested that I try some tranquilizers to see if this improved the flushing condition. I really didn’t believe that stress was the cause and therefore further testing with an endocrinologist was pursued. An endocrinologist is a doctor that specializes in disease of the glands. These specialists are trained to diagnose and treat a variety of problems such as thyroid diseases, diabetes, hormonal imbalances, metabolic disorders, etc.

A series of urine tests and examinations by the endocrinologist produced all normal results. No sign of dermographism yet, but definitely something within my body had changed over the last couple of years.


April 2004

I spent one week in the Dominican Republic. Great holiday! If it was stress causing the flushing condition, then this was definitely a possible cure. The flushing seemed to subside. Maybe it was underlying stress that I did not openly feel.

Unfortunately on the last day in the Dominican Republic, a wasp type insect stung me. Over the next week after my return, my arm had swollen significantly. It took some heavy does of anti-histamines to decrease the swelling and redness. Fortunately, no infection developed and everything returned back to normal. I was still not experiencing any dermographism symptoms such as hives or welts, itchy skin, or redness at all at this point. However, I believe that it was that sting in combination with some of the changes that were occurring in my body that caused dermographism to develop.

May 2004

Everything seemed fine, except for some minor face flushing every now and then.


June 2004

After participating in various activities such as playing softball and exercising, I noticed raised welts on my skin. These welts were present where I had unknowing scratched my skin. The welts were very red and rose quite high above the skin surface. The effect on the skin was quite striking and dramatic. The trunk of the body was the area most affected. In addition, my skin was very itchy. I also noticed that as my body temperature rose, just prior to sweating, there was a stinging feeling all over my skin. After doing some quick research, I suspected that I was experiencing dermographism.


July 2004 to November 2004

During this time period, I experimented with a lot of different things to try and alleviate the dermographism symptoms:

  • used different soaps for bathing
  • used different detergents for laundry
  • always double rinsed laundry
  • avoided the use of dryer sheets or fabric softener
  • stopped using deodorant for a while.

All these attempts did nothing to alleviate the itching, welts or hives, and skin redness. During this time period my skin also became sensitive to heat. Whenever my body temperature was raised, either because of exercise or just warm air temperatures, my facial area (especially the forehead) became red with very small pimples. What this heat urticaria?


December 2004

In early November, I reached into a cardboard box and the flap rubbed against my skin. This caused a large red welt on my skin and this was the final straw. I visited my family physician and he referred me to a dermatologist.

After describing my symptoms to the dermatologist, he ran a wooden tongue depressor down my back and a red itchy welt formed on my skin. He stated that I had dermographism or dermatographism.

I was prescribed the following (daily) to alleviate the dermographism symptoms:

  • one tablet of over the counter extra strength (10mg) Reactine (Cetirizine Hydrochloride) in the morning
  • one tablet (10mg) of Hydroxyzine Hydrochloride (Atarax) at bedtime.

After a few days, the itchiness essentially disappeared and I no longer formed any welts with friction on the skin. However, obvious red marks still remained where friction or pressure was applied to skin. I experienced no side effects from the medication.


January to February 2005

After a month, I visited the dermatologist once again for a follow-up visit. After discussing my situation, he decided to increase the Reactine dosage to try and reduce the redness. Therefore, I was prescribed the following medication:

  • one tablet of prescription (20mg) Reactine (Cetirizine Hydrochloride) in the morning
  • one tablet (10mg) of Hydroxyzine Hydrochloride (Atarax) at bedtime.

The increase in Reactine dosage did not seem to have much effect in reducing the redness caused by pressure or friction on the skin.


March 2005

Another visit to the dermatologist and the suggestion was made to continue the last medication regiment for another month. No itching, no welts, but red marks still evident with pressure.

April 2005

Fourth visit to the dermatologist. He asked me how it was going and then remarked “well you have been on the medication for a month ……”.

I pointed out to him that it had been four months! After the puzzled look on his face disappeared, he then said that I should go off the antihistamines for at least 2 weeks and then restart the treatment for 2 weeks and repeat the cycle. He said that eventually the dermographism should disappear and that I could manage my own treatment as when to go on or off the antihistamines. He gave me five repeats for the medication and suggested I return if things became worse.


May 2005 to June 2005

I stopped taking the antihistamines and for the first couple of days my skin became inflamed all over, very red, and very itchy. After that, the full dermographism symptoms returned. I waited 2 weeks, but then instead of starting the dermographism treatments of antihistamines again, I looked for another alternative.


July 2005 to December 2005

Instead of taking antihistamines, I decided to try an all-natural remedy. A friend of mine had told me how Noni juice had helped his ailing farther during his illness. The physician of my friend was also telling his patients about Noni juice and many patients were trying Noni juice and experiencing improvements with a variety of their physical problems. Being a scientist, I saw this as a perfect opportunity to test the Noni juice on myself. Could Noni juice relieve my dermographism symptoms.

For more information about Noni juice, please visit the all-natural treatments page.

I decided to give it a try. From July 2005 to December 2005, I took 30 ml of Noni Juice sold by a company called Lexxus every morning on an empty stomach – 30 minutes before eating. There are several varieties of Noni Juice available and not all are of the same concentration or effectiveness. I went with the brand recommended by my friend’s physician.

Within one week the dermatographism symptoms subsided. I was experiencing normal skin reaction to applied friction or pressure – no welts, redness, or itching without the use of antihistamines!


January 2006 to February 2006

To evaluate whether Noni was playing a role in the dermographism symptom relief, I decided to stop taking Noni. Within a couple of days the symptoms of itchy skin, red skin, and raised welts returned. The degree of itching and skin redness was the same as before the Noni juice treatment. However, the severity of the welts decreased.

Currently, I am not taking Noni juice in order to see the course that the dermographism takes without any sort of treatment.


March 2006 to April 2006

For the last two months, I have not been taking anything for my dermographism or dermatographism condition. In March and early April, the symptoms were quite mild. I had some minor itching, but very few flare-ups of welts and little discomfort with raised body temperature. I had the feeling that perhaps the dermographism was going into remission.

However, over the last couple of weeks the itching has returned. It is not as severe as the initial stages of the disease, but enough to remind me that this condition has not been cured. The raised welts have also returned to some degree. Could there be some relation to spring time allergies? I don't know.

I am in process of deciding weather to start taking noni juice once again or try a round of prescription/non-prescription antihistamines as was suggested by the dermatologist.



May 2006 to August 2006

As described for the March and April entry, it seems that the dermographism is returning. I have had more itch over the summer and some hives. It is nowhere near what it was a couple of years ago, but the dermographism is still bothersome at times. I am still going without any sort of treatment. I want to see if it the summer months that is aggravating the dermatographism. In order to determine this, I cannot be on any treatment regiment. Thankfully, the condition is mild right now and I can go without treatment. Once the fall season begins, I will decide on what action to take next for my dermographism.



September 2006 to November 2006

My dermographism relapse continues. Since the cooler fall weather has arrived, the symptoms have increased in severity. In particular, the symptoms over the last couple of weeks have been almost as bad as when the condition peaked about one year ago. One possible explanation for this is that my wife switched to a scented laundry detergent. Whether it is related or not to what has happened to me the last of couple of weeks I do not know. However, I will discontinue the use of the scented detergent.

I have started to increase my vitamin C intake with a 500mg daily supplement. In addition, I have obtained more Noni juice and will proceed with this treatment once again for a couple of months. At this point, the dermographism symptoms are just too strong to be left untreated.



December 2006 to March 2007

Well, I am into my third bottle of noni juice. After the first two bottles it seemed like there was a small improvement in symptom reduction of my dermographism. After the second bottle, I was travelling a lot and had to discontinue the use of noni juice. However, now I am taking it regularly once again and it appears to be helping quite a bit.

The last time I took noni juice for dermatographism it took three to four months to see results. I will report back after I finish my fourth botte.

I am also continuing to take a daily 500mg vitamin C tablet.

I have had a lot of e-mails about noni juice and dermographism lately. My advice to those e-mailers has been to try it for three to four months to see if it helps. It is a small investment for a chance at relief.



April 2007 to July 2007

I finished my fourth bottle of noni juice at the end of June. My dermatographism symptoms have subsided significantly. I do get some itch once and a while, but it is minor and bearable. I currently do not get any raised welts or hives. I haven't taken any antihistamines for quite a while now.

I have not been taking vitamin C regularly, although I think I will resume doing so. I will also stop taking noni fruit juice again to see if the dermographism symptoms reappear.

Finally, I purchased some hypoallergenic dryer sheets. Dryer sheets contain plenty of chemicals that can affect the skin. I must say that the sheets work great and have made my skin much less sensitive to rashes and hives. For anyone with sensitive skin and even those who don't, these sheets are a must.



August 2007 to February 2008

From August to November, the dermatographism was well controlled with no medication and no noni juice needed. However, with the dry winter weather the itchiness and redness has started again. The condition is not as bad as it used to be i.e. large welts forming, but the condition definitely has gotten worse during the winter. I have gone back on the noni juice to control the symptoms.



March 2008 to August 2008

As summer approached, the symptoms subsided. I still get mildly itchy sometimes, but I am used to it by now. I have experienced no itchy fits or the appearance of raised hives or welts with scratching or pressure applied to my skin. For now, I also do not experience large red welts on my face with gentle rubbing. I have not reacted to red wine like I used to previously. I have not been taking any Noni juice or antihistamines during this time period. Once the fall weather approaches, I suspect the dermographism symptoms may return as I feel that dry cool weather is one trigger for my dermatographism. Stay tuned.



September 2008 to March 2009

Well the fall and winter weather came and as I suspected the dermatographism symptoms became a little more stronger. A little more itch than the summer, a little more raised welts, and a little more redness. The dry weather definitely affects my dermatographism. All in all, the symptoms are still not as bad as when this all started. However, I still have to be careful not to rub or scratch my skin, especially the face or a welt may form, but often the area just gets red. Stress and heat definitely aggravate this condition. Stress leads to heat and itch and then scratching and then welts.

I am not on any medication or noni juice. I must say I have sort of given up on trying to find a cure. I just put up with it, probably because it is not as bad as it used to be. I hope the summer gives me a few symptom free months.



April 2009 to March 2011

Nothing much has changed since my last post and really the dermatographism is not that bad. I still get the occasional hive or welt from rubbing or scratching and the red marks but mostly in the winter months.

The following link discusses two eBooks that I have discovered which may help those looking for a natural cure for their hives or dermographism.

Please return to this page regularly for more updates on my battle with dermographism.



Share your Dermographism Skin Problem Story

Dermographism or dermatographism is a skin problem that is more common than people think. However, many medical professionals often are unaware of it or do not know how to deal with. Share your experience with Dermographism and help others.

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