I first realized I had dermatographism or hives rash in March 1997. Today is May 27th, 2007, and yes, I still have dermatographism. The company I was with at the time in '97 had a week long training class in Green Bay, their HQ at the time. Probably the second day after our class finished, we all went back to the hotel to change our clothes before heading out for dinner. The first thing I took off were my socks. The minute my bare feet hit the air, I began to itch like crazy, so I sat on the edge of my bed continually scratching my feet all over, top and bottom. Once I felt that I had at least temporarily relieved this, I took off the rest of my clothes, and the "itch attack" as I began to call it, went over my entire body with the exception of the area just below my belly button. It was unbelievable. I remember laying down on my bed, and I could not stop scratching all over.I don't know how long this first one lasted, but it seemed like 15 minutes straight of nothing by scratching one area to the next.
When I got back home, I was telling my girlfriend (now my wife) and her mom about these new found itch attacks I had that night and the remainder of the week. Her mom suggested I get some Benadryl to see if that would work. It did work, but only after I took 3 or 4 pills. My first visit to the doctor produced a 30-day prescription of Zyrtec. After I took that first pill, I was on cloud 9 - no more itching, but if I did scratch myself somewhere, my skin would still welt up or raised hives rash would form where the friction occurred. Nonetheless, I was thinking I had beaten this thing whatever it was. The doctor did not diagnose it as dermatographism; in fact he could not say what it was exactly.
Probably the second day after I took the last pill of my first 30-day prescription, my itch attacks were back. I called the doctor immediately and told him I needed another prescription. He asked me to come in to see him again before issuing another prescription. When he came into the room, he was carrying a large medical book. He sat it down on the table with a specific page opened up. Before he said anything about it, he asked me to take my shirt off. He took the stick of a long cotton swab, and drew the lines for tic-tac-toe on my back. He then asked me to look in the mirror at my back. At first, I thought, this is a pretty sad way to amuse yourself doctor, and then I thought, what in the world is wrong with me?! That's when he had me take a look at the page he had opened up to. He said, you have a condition called dermatographism hives rash, and explained that there are no known causes, but it is believed to be caused by stress primarily.
At that point in time, I had not too long before this, started a new job; a week or two after my trip to Green Bay, I got engaged, and to top it all off, my fiancé and I moved in together and were looking at buying our first house. So naturally, I figured, get past these stresses in my life, and I'm back to normal. I did ask though, how long can I expect to have the hives rash. His answer was weeks, months, or years - it could last the rest of your life. He then gave me a 3-month prescription for Zyrtec, which once the 3-month supply was gone, he started giving me a year at a time. Somewhere in that first year, I complained to him about being a lot more fatigued than usual. He switched me to Claritin, which was strictly prescription then. In 2000 or 2001, I moved to Clarinex. During the summer of 2005, I began buying over the counter Claritin from Costco since it became so much more expensive to purchase it through my company's medical insurance plan. About once every 3 months, I stop taking my daily Claritin pill to see how long I can go before the itching and hives rash begin again. I can only make it about 30-36 hours before I have to take one. After about a full 24+ hours, the palms of my hands begin to itch, but it's not consistent. The itching then starts to spread to my limbs. That's when I know the condition is still with me. It's extremely frustrating, and I don't believe the "non-drowsy" claim on the outside of the Claritin box as I still am amazed at how tired I get every day, and I'm not a couch potato. I exercise at least 3 times a week and eat healthy the majority of the time. I was happy to hear about the Noni Juice for treating hives rash alternative. I'll be buying some today, and will use this time as my attempt to see if I can go without my Claritin again. I will say that it's not difficult swallowing a tiny pill everyday to manage my dermatographism, but at the same time, I certainly don't want to have to deal with this hives rash condition the rest of my life.
Corey – May 27, 2007
Eight years ago my husband and I went to Peru to visit for a week. The next to last night we were there, I was getting ready to take a shower and my thighs started itching. I kept scratching and they continued to itch. Finally, I just quit scratching and had to endure the itching for a little bit and then it quit. I forgot all about it until the next night the exact same thing happened. I have been itching ever since. The itching started with my legs and has spread to my whole body. The hives rash itching was always worse in the evening.
Finally, after 4 months, I went to a doctor. She just gave me Claritin to take. That helped as long as I would take it. I still take it every three to four days when the itching is bugging me enough. As long as I take it, I forget about the itching. It doesn't help with the red welts or hives rash that occur, if I accidentally scratch myself or scratch myself with my ring or something else. I have learned to keep my hands from my face and neck area when I am in public, so I don't create red marks or welts. The lady that cuts my hair says that my skin turns red when she touches places on the back of my neck with a comb or scissors when she is trimming it. I have been to an allergist, dermatologist, internist, and any other doctor I have been to, I mention the symptoms to them. They just seem to want to treat the symptom and not to try and find the cause. One doctor told me it was in my head and that when I start itching to just train my brain to think of something else. When the Claritin is starting to wear off I can tell I am starting to itch again. I can get up in the morning and run a comb through my hair and instantly my scalp starts to itch. Of course my skin makes the big red welts or hives rash if I scratch. I have shown the doctors all I have to do is scratch my skin and the redness and welts start and it takes 15 minutes at least before it goes away. I am not even itching when I show them what my skin will do. It is just the contact on my skin that does that. The dermatologist gave me a cortisone shot once and he said it would be in my system for 10 days. Well for 10 days I didn't itch, but when it wore off I started itching again.
Recently I went to a man that does acupuncture and Chinese medicine and he did acupuncture and gave me herbs to make a tea out of. I went to him for about 6 weeks and the whole time I was going to him I quit itching and the welts or hives rash didn't seem to be as bad. I didn't even have to take a Claritin the whole time I was going to him. I quit going to him because it was at least an hour drive to where I had to go plus it was about $80+ dollars every week. I have found another acupuncture & Chinese medicine doctor that is about 30 minutes away. I guess it is just cheaper to take the generic Claritin for now. I have a sister-in-law that does medical transcribing and I was asking her about a liver doctor because I have read that itching of the skin might be a liver problem. I am not a person that is big on going to doctors, but I have tried in the last 8 years to find what is causing this condition. Well anyway, my sister-in-law said that it sounds like dermatographism. That was just today, May 23rd, so I looked it up on the Internet and that is exactly what my condition sounds like. It has taken over 8 years to figure it out. Also, I have been tested for parasites twice and they can't find any. Anyway, that is my story.
Marcia – May 23, 2007
I was diagnosed many years ago when my dermatologist lightly sketched a tic-tac-toe game design on my arm with a Popsicle stick! It's normally very mild; just a few red lines or spots if I touched my skin too hard when putting on makeup, etc. My more serious occurrences are definitely linked to allergies and stress. I have bad tree and grass pollen allergies and those pollens are very high where I live right now. After I took a lunchtime walk at work the itching started. Today I have the hives rash everywhere clothing straps touched, including my waistband and lower back. I'm on daily Allegra for my allergies but it doesn't seem like enough, so I may have to add some Benadryl. I'm also very stressed with an upcoming move and job change. The last time I had the hives rash this bad was also after taking a walk outside when the pollen levels were high and I was stressed about an upcoming meeting. Just my two cents.
Susan - May 19, 2007
I have been very uncomfortable with this hives rash. I have gone to a dermatologist and have been put on Allegra and on medication for the itch. I can not pin point how I got this, but I did go to a tanning booth for a month and used their lotions and I also took an Aloe Vera cleanser which has a lot of different herbs. I am very active and love the sun. I am hoping that this summer the sun will not bother me. I itch most of the time. I can write on myself and the red hives rash appears. I hate the hives rash and wish I knew what caused it and how to get rid of it. Any info would be great.
Johanna – May 15, 2007