Dermatographism and the Hives – Reader's Blog Continued

I started with dermatographism a few months ago (or maybe a while earlier). I was at a family party and was sitting down talking to my sister. My left forearm started to itch, and then when I looked at it, I noticed long red lines, raised and swollen. They went away about 30 minutes later.

A few weeks later I was at a meeting and was leaning against a wall, with my arm looped over it. A few minutes later, my whole arm from wrist to armpit was badly swollen, red and itching. I went to the doctor and she gave me an antihistamine. I found out from the net what was going on. My month's supply lasted until about two weeks ago and now I'm thinking of going back for more, as things are getting much worse.

About two years ago, I went to the doc's complaining about itching shoulders and tingling arms. I was told it was a neck condition. (I found out then, that I have Spinabifida Occulta that causes swelling around the neck area). I wonder now, whether this is possibly when the first symptoms actually occurred.

I have suffered with fungal skin infections for several years now. Athlete's foot, ringworm, sweat rashes and the like. Maybe there's a link there.

Anyway, I thought I'd give you some background into me starting on the journey to coping with this problem.

Darren

My husband has had skin writing hives for approx. 10 years now. He has tried Claritin and/or Zyrtec D and steroid shots occasionally which offer temporary relief.

He has been tested for allergies and has not been found to be allergic to anything! Not even one thing! He does not smoke, chew or drink, but does drink approx. 10 cups of coffee daily. I have always felt this was too much, but it does not faze him. I feel that his liver is not being able to process all of this liquid and toxins are building up in him causing the hives.

He was reading a small blurb in the Times magazine the other day that stated "80% fall in the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis that can result from drinking four cups of coffee a day, according to a new study." Does anyone know where this study can be found?

So I began searching and reading on the internet under WebMD about alcoholic cirrhosis and learned about Primary Biliary Cirrhosis. One of the side effects is itching skin and hives. The treatment is abstinence, but I want more proof does anyone have any?

Sherrie

I just learned about this symptom and this is exactly what I have had for years off and on. I was diagnosed with "idiopathic urticaria" 25 years ago. I went through all the allergy testing to find nothing. They said it was like finding a needle in a haystack as for the cause of my hives. I then found out I had a hyper thyroid. Well I had radiation and now I am Hypo thyroid and take medication to replace the hormone. I have struggled with the hives for years off and on. When I was pregnant with my 2nd child I really had a hard time because I could not take anything to relieve the itching so I ended up with some nasty scares among my stretch marks. I would get so worked up that I would take a hairbrush and brush everywhere until I was so swollen and bleeding. I felt a hot bath helped -even thou they say stay away from hot water-I felt like I was almost burning them off. I would tend to relax some and then things would settle some. There have been times when my eyes and lips were so swollen I could not go out in public-I looked like a freak. It then would take a good part of the day to come down. I tried ice. That did not help. Felt good thou. It has been a challenge all my life. I have ended up in the ER a number of times for a shot of cortisone.

Life has been pretty good for the last several years with just a spot here and there-nothing I could not handle until about a month ago I had a terrible stressful day at work and needless to say all "hell broke loose" I have been peppered ever sense. Thankfully my new Dr. has had the same thing. I called today for I need some relief. I take Atarax every other day to settle the hives down, but that really drags me down. He has told me to try over the counter Loratadine-I guess it is a generic over the counter type of Claritin??? I'm going to try this tonight. I find out my biggest problem is in the night, early mornings; I am broke out on my legs terribly. They are so dry. I cannot put lotion on to moisten them up because then I break out again. Then I struggle thru the A.M with itching until noon or so and then I finally settle down. By the time I head to bed I am clear, just to start all over again. It’s a nightmare. I hope they just run there course once again and leave me be for some more free years. Until then I will read all the information I can on this web site for relief. If anyone has some opinions or relief please pass it my way.

Peg



Thank God, I am not crazy!! What is even crazier is that I work in a hospital and I had doctors looking at me like I had some sort of funk or something. Here is the short of my story...I turned 30 on Aug. 5. Have not been dealing with this very well for some time. The day after my birthday was my first "outbreak.” I do not even know what I had done but I was scratching my back. I raised my shirt up and asked my husband if there were some sort of lines on there and he is like, "what did you do?" Little did I know what the next week would entail. On and off all week, the slightest pressure against any place on my body and BAM...welts and itching and insanity!!! Finally, after a week of this I showed our E.R. physician my back again and he's like "You have dermatographia.” And I'm like, "dramatic what?"

So, since then I have been on the internet like crazy trying to figure this whole thing out. So, any sort of information would very helpful. By the way, what was your name again? Oh, the er doc gave me some steroids and told me to take some benadryl (probably not a good idea when working in a hospital). I am going to try to get into a dermatologist soon. Also, have you ever heard if this in any way shape or form is related to hormones in a woman's body? My husband and I are thinking about having another baby and I have been off bc pills since May. Normal cycles in June and July, but the day after my first outbreak I had abnormal bleeding for the first "hell" week with the dermatographia (sorry, I know...tmi). Just curious if you have ever heard of that being a cause. Any info is greatly appreciated.

Leslie

My dermatographism started when I was in my late teens, and has now continued into my mid twenties. I think my symptoms are fairly mild. If I rub a spot on my face, for example, I experience a lingering red mark, accompanied by a mild tingling sensation. It can be a bit embarrassing to walk around with red marks on my face, but I try not to be troubled when I do so; furthermore, I find it quite easy to refrain from rubbing my face when in company, so I'm largely able to avoid that problem.

Almost every night, though, I suffer at least one bout of intense itching and scratching, especially on my legs and thighs, which usually lasts from 5 to 20 minutes and leaves raised welts or hives and redness wherever I've scratched. Often, I think those bouts are set off by the friction of fabric against my legs as I change out of day clothes and into PJs; but I also wonder whether it isn't just an effect of having idle hands and an idle mind once I stop working and settle into my evening. I sometimes suffer such itching bouts during the daytime as well, but only rarely.

Last month I went on vacation and experienced almost no night time itching bouts while abroad, which makes me wonder whether stress is a factor in setting them off. Or maybe it was the newness of my surroundings that distracted me from the usual urge to itch while abroad.

For me, the worst part of having dermatographism is periodically thinking that my itching bouts betray some kind of psychological weakness -- that if only I could put mind over matter and tough it out, I could overcome the temptation to itch and so return to being a "normal" person. I also worry that my bedtime itching annoys my boyfriend (even though he repeatedly tells me it doesn't!), and I feel guilty on his account when I indulge in scratching around him. When I am feeling troubled along these lines, it's helpful for me to remember that my condition is not purely psychological. It is an undeniable, objectively testable, physical reality that most people can't write their names on their skin with a pen cap and have it stand out in raised red letters for ten minutes thereafter; but I can, because I have this thing called dermatographism, and that's why I have to struggle with itching a bit more than most people do.

Carol

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