Red Welts and Itchiness with Dermatographism

by Anonymous

My experience with dermatographism began in my first year of college, at the age of 17. I do not remember having any itching or welting when I was younger but starting at age 17, I had intense itching "episodes" taking place at night time and resulting in large areas of my body, usually my legs, being covered in raised welts where I had scratched them. Once the itching subsided, I remember feeling such warmth and tingling in the skin that had been itching so severely just moments before. It all seemed so random and in those days before the internet, I couldn't research this skin problem easily on my own. With no idea as to what could be causing it and thinking it was bug bites (or something like that) I washed all my bedding and cleaned everything meticulously, to no avail. Eventually, I figured out it might be some kind of allergy and was able to control the episodes by taking half a Benadryl tablet before bed each night. After a few years, my dermatographism seemed to settle down a bit, I stopped taking the Benadryl and only experienced mild "contact" dermatographism whenever I was scratched, instead of the full-on itching attacks I had at the onset.

Now at the age of 30, I find the dermatographism flares up with stress, such as during our recent out-of-state move. I also tend to get hives while talking on the phone. It still feels like it comes on in "episodes", like when talking on the phone or I could be wearing a wool sweater all day with no problem. Then all of a sudden it starts irritating me. I start itching and my entire upper body could be covered in raised welts in a matter of minutes. Then the itching is gone as quickly as it came on, leaving behind just the raised areas. It is just very strange.

I don't really mind the dermatographism, but it would be nice to know why it is happening and what is different in my body that makes me susceptible to this. The worst part is if I get a welt while I am at work or when other people are around, like if I scratch myself accidentally or bump into something, which WILL leave a big welt on my skin, people freak out. I guess it looks pretty bad, but for goodness sakes, it goes away in a few minutes. My boyfriend even apologizes whenever he makes my skin a little red or "puffy", as I call it, even though he did nothing to apologize for and I just wish he wouldn't call more attention to it! It's just my skin, something I will probably have to deal with for the rest of my life.

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