Autoimmune Disease and Skin Welts

by Heather

I am 36 years old and have had this dermographism skin condition for about twenty years now. It all started at a restaurant in Wyoming. After leaving the restaurant, I noticed that I had red raised lines on my forearms from them resting on the edge of the table. After that occasion, every time I would get scratched by something or any time any type of friction would occur on my skin I would get red welts. My doctor examined my problem and diagnosed my skin issue as dermographia or dermographism and prescribed me hydroxyzine to treat the symptoms that I was having. Unfortunately, the hydroxyzine did not seem to help much, and since I do not like being on medication, I discontinued the use of it.

My dermagraphia itched sometimes but often was sorer in places than anything else, especially on my hands. However, in 2009 I started having INTENSE itching beyond belief. It was so bad and I itched so much that I developed red bumps, bleeding and bruising, and was only able to sleep about two hours a night due to the EXTREME itching. In addition to the itching on my skin, I also had a problem with my thigh. On my thigh the welt that appeared (one continuous one) and covered most of my thigh was raised about 1/8th of an inch all the way around and was bright red and hard as a rock. I went to the doctor, but still no answers and no solutions. This particular episode lasted for about one tortuous month.

In April 2011, I started having skin hives with the dermographia and high fevers in the 104 degrees F range. This was accompanied with dizziness and weakness. These symptoms only lasted about a couple hours at a time, and then the fever and weakness would seem to just mysteriously go away. I have seen a dermatologist, allergist, and family doctor with regards to these new symptoms. The family doctor has referred me to a rheumatologist, due to my fevers, hives and blood tests which revealed some concern leaning towards a possible autoimmune disease. Has anyone else had high fevers or been diagnose with an autoimmune disease that also has dermographia? I would really like to know if anyone has had a similar problem as mine and what they have done to treat or cure this issue.

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Jan 19, 2022
Helping the Welts
by: Anonymous

I had the same thing. Xyzal antihistamine was the only one that helped.

Jan 03, 2018
by: Anonymous

It is very expensive but Xolair really works. I was on 4 tablets of 20 mg Reactin and a lot of other medications. However, one shot of Xolair every month and the dermatographism is gone.

Aug 10, 2017
Looking for Answers
by: Anonymous

My wife came down with dermographism in 2002 and since then it went into remission. It is back since 2016 and she has now been diagnosed with autoimmune disease. We are looking for any answers to what can help restore her to her normal health.

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Autoimmune Condition Cause of Dermatographism

by Bailey

Hi all! I'm a 39 year old female who has suffered from dermatographia all my life. In the past 18 months however, it took on a life of its own. Along with the dermatographia, I also suffer from chronic urticaria (hives), which just appear for no known reason. I have been to an endocrinologist for thyroid testing, gastroenterologist for possible bacterial (h pylori, maybe?) testing, a rheumatologist/immunologist for ANA testing (standard autoimmune testing), dermatologist for biopsy, and 2 allergists for allergy testing. Everything came back negative. I did a food elimination diet and no change. I tried homeopathic remedies and no relief. I have also tried medications such as: Benadryl, Allegra, Zyrtec, Singulair, Zantac, Doxepin, Colchicine, Dapsone, and even high-doses of prednisone, all with no relief.

My allergist finally tested me for a certain antibody (anti-FcE-R1 autoantibody) and it came back with numbers off the chart! The reason none of these medications have worked is because it is an autoimmune disorder so I am basically "allergic" to myself. The "official name" is Chronic Autoimmune Urticaria and since my body makes so many of these antibodies and is so resistant to the standard treatments, when my skin is scratched, my mast cells are in overdrive to begin with so my response is 10x worse. I don't remember being ill, but my doctor says that autoimmune disorders such as this are often triggered by an illness. Those of you for whom the dermatographia began or seemed to worsen after getting sick or being under a lot of stress, it's highly likely it's autoimmune in nature. I think there are only 2 tests available to determine if it actually is, an ASST or the anti-FcE-R1 autoantibody. This will NOT show up on a standard ANA test and only 2 labs in the US do the antibody test.

I will be starting a course of immunosuppressants soon to try and put this into "remission" because it has progressed to the point where even the seams on clothing will cause itchy wheals.

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Jan 04, 2017
Dermatographism for Almost 30 Years!
by: Gloria

I was living in Germany when I was diagnosed with this disease. It came on like a light switch one night. We happened to be in Paris that weekend, so I immediately thought it was a food allergy because it started right after dinner that night. However, I do remember having a very violent flu just a few weeks before this trip. I went to several different doctors, but they all provided the same diagnosis. So because it is such a rare disease, not much research has been done still to this day. I do have it under control with 50 mg of Hydroxyzine daily at night time. It helps you sleep. However, I really hope almost 30 years of taking this antihistamine will not have adverse effects on me.

Mar 27, 2015
Newly Diagnosed
by: Melissa

I was just diagnosed with dermatographia yesterday. I've had this for over two years and it's managed on Allegra but I am looking into it now before it gets to be unmanageable. I have recently purchased the e-book from Yasmina Ykelemstam - The low Histamine Chef. She has great information on her journey with high histamine production and other ailments. Check it out, it definitely can't hurt. I feel strongly that especially for these autoimmune disorders, the food we put in our bodies is a huge contributing factor.

Mar 12, 2015
Fellow Sufferer
by: Selena

I have suffered with Dermatographia all my life. Back in the early 80's I don't think much was known about this so when I did prick testing for allergies, it came back that I was allergic to everything because each prick site was swollen. I lived on antihistamines and never really had many issues. Fast forward to 2012 and it came back. Worse than ever before. A hug, my clothes, the steering wheel of my car - anything would cause welts everywhere. Finally after a year I went on 40 mg of Prednisone and that stopped it. Because of other issues that even my rheumatologist cannot diagnose but believes it to be autoimmune disease, I was put on 25 mg Methotrexate while tapering off of Prednisone. I did that for a year and though it helped my Dermatographia it didn't do much for my ESR levels and pain. I did two more short courses of Prednisone 60mg with the last dose finishing early February 2015. I want to say it's been in remission since September 2013 when I first started Prednisone.

It's now a month I have been off of it and I feel itchy. When I scratch it burns but no welts. Part of me wants to see if I beat this thing. The other wants me to start back on medications but the side effects are horrible. Thank you for your article. I definitely will explore getting that test done though I doubt it is available in Barbados where I live. Information is always good.

Jan 22, 2015
by: Dee

I already have one autoimmune disorder and often where there's one there's more. So thank you for posting this because after over 20 years with this getting progressively worse and only six years on Zyrtec that actually helped, I'm starting to freak out and lose hope. Right now with my hair touching my neck and back, it is making me itch. My legs are covered in scabs from scratching and I keep wearing tent like dresses because my belly is full of welts from the waistline of my pants touching me. I need answers and help. The itching gets so awful I've thrown up from the pain.

Jul 03, 2014
A Major Case of Dermagraphia
by: Anonymous

I have what we think is a major case of dermagraphia. It's been about three and a half years now and I am starting to take Doxepin, Atarax, Benadryl and Zantac. Aside from being absolutely wiped out, I get NO RELIEF and am tortured by the itch/scratch/itch/scratch cycle. If I don't scratch, the itch just tortures me until I drug myself with Flexeril and alcohol. I'm working full time, so I can only drug myself at night and on weekends. Life is great! NOT! Please help.

Apr 15, 2014
Travelling to Atlanta
by: Anonymous

I have been dealing with this for over a month and I am only seeing the steroids, antihistimanies and nose sprays to be band-aids. I am traveling to Atlanta to see a Chinese herbalist to see if he has a cure for me. Stand by for an update.

Feb 15, 2014
Some of the Same Hives Symptoms
by: Anonymous

My husband suffers from hives. For no apparent reason his ankle swelled, with itching, and becomes swollen to a point where walking is difficult. Then when he awakes, it is as if nothing was there. This happens about every two weeks and sometimes the welts will happen with trauma as in his belt buckle rubbing on his waist or his watch. It comes and goes.

Feb 15, 2014
by: chrihening

Under immunosuppressants, some bacteria or other microorganisms can grow very quickly, such as Borrelia. Have you done some tests for this kind of bacteria? It could be also the cause for your autoimmune disorder.

Dec 12, 2012
by: Bailey

The only immunosuppressant that worked well was Azathioprine. However, I had to discontinue that due to the side effects. I WAS on a fairly high dose, though. Currently, I am only on Xyzal and Allegra, with Atarax for severe itching (although it doesn't really do much). I have basically learned to deal with it, avoid the triggers, and try to live my life as fully as possible. Sorry I couldn't be of more help.

Dec 11, 2012
Thank You
by: Anonymous

It started out two years ago with terrible hives. I have gone through ALL the testing as you did, the only thing is that my ANA was slightly elevated. Now I have started with the dermatographia - usually starting mid-afternoon and getting worse as the evening goes on. I get relief with Benadryl but it makes me too sleepy to take during the day! Thank you for this article. I am going to print it out and take it to my doctor. I hope you are getting relief and please update if you can about the new meds you are trying.

Jul 27, 2012
Did it work?
by: Anonymous

Can the person who posted this about Autoimmune Condition Cause of Dermatographism please let me know if the immunosuppressants worked. My story is almost exactly like yours! Thank you!

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Dermographism and Connection to Autoimmune Diseases

by Trista

I have read that Dermographism can be a sign of another autoimmune disease such as RA or a thyroid condition. Anyone experience this?
I have struggled with Dermographism for four years. Shortly after having surgery. Recently, my 21 year old has started to experience it, too. I worry for her as well as myself. I was also recently diagnosed with a spine condition that was caused by an undiagnosed birth defect. When talking with the specialist and telling him of my Dermographism (self diagnosed since three different doctors brushed me off when I spoke of it) and the family history of RA and thyroid issues, he was concerned and felt I needed to get blood work. Now, I feel more freaked out.

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