Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Dermatographism (dermatographic urticaria, Skin writing) - Causes and Treatment

Dermatographism or dermatographia is a skin condition characterized by skin writing. If a person with dermatographism scratches his skin, it reddens and a raised wheal that looks like hives appear. The marks take 30 minutes to completely disappear.

Dermatographic urticaria causes

The exact cause of dermatographism is still unknown at this time. There are a few factors that can trigger its appearance such as infection, side effects of medications/allergy to medications, and emotional upset.

When the skin of a person is stroked, the mast cell will release histamine, which causes allergic reaction. In severe cases, it is not just the histamine that is involved, but also other chemical mediators. Some even have antibody in their serum. (1)

Dermatographism Pictures

 Image 1 : Dermatographia clinical manifestation in a female patient
Photo Source : www.visualnews.com

A skin writing at the back of the patient.image
Picture 2 : A skin writing at the back of the patient
Photo Source : s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com

Dermatographic urticaria symptoms:

The clinical manifestations of Dermatographic urticaria include the following:
  • mation
  • Raised red lines
  • Swelling and inflam on the skin
  • Itchiness
  • Hive-like welts
Dermatographism affects any age group, but commonly affects young adults. It starts gradually, but it can develop over a few days. Dermatographism can be linked with other disease conditions such as thyroid disease. It some instances, it can be related to anxiety, agitation, and worrying situation. The possibility of experiencing dermatographism is high in hot weather condition.

People with sensitive skin may experience dermatographism after taking a warm bath. It can also appear after exercising, towelling after taking a bath, pressure on the skin secondary to tight fitting clothes, energetic kissing, and other activities that cause too much pressure on the skin. (2, 3)

The appearance of raised red lines gives the patient an itchy sensation. Once you scratch a particular area of the skin, the surrounding skin will be affected too. Usually, the welt is on the surface, but in some cases, the welt can go deep which lead to the development of giant welts.

The condition can go away after a few hours. Others may take months or years. For patients with dermatographism for a long period of time, the welt is significantly reduced and there are no other associated symptoms at all. (4)

When you should contact a medical expert?

If the clinical manifestations of dermatographism are bothersome, then by all means you need to see your doctor. The doctor will thoroughly assess the severity and extent of the condition and will prescribe medication to manage the symptoms.

Medical experts believed that the symptoms, especially the skin lesions are a result of too much histamine in the blood. It is the very same reason why the doctor prescribe antihistamines. (5)

Who are at risk?

It can affect people of any age, but is more common in teenagers and young adults. People with dermatitis or dry skin are also prone to dermatographia. You are also at risk if you have a skin condition that causes you to scratch your skin frequently. (6)

Tests used to diagnose dermatographism

A simple test is performed to diagnose the presence of dermatographism. The doctor will use a tongue depressor and will draw across the skin of the back or arm. Dermatographism is confirmed if the skin becomes red and a swollen line or welt appear a few minutes after doing the test. The skin’s sensitivity is measured too using a dermographometer, a spring-loaded instrument.

Dermatographism Treatment

As mentioned above, dermatographia symptoms usually go away on their own without requiring any treatments at all. Medical measures are needed if the symptoms are bothersome and go out of control. The medical practitioner will usually prescribe antihistamines such as cetirizine, diphenhydramine, and fexofenadine.

Aside from antihistamines, dermatologic therapy is also needed. It includes gentle and thorough skin care routine, especially moisturizing the skin to get rid of itching and improve the dryness of the skin. In severe instances, the doctor will prescribe cromolyn, a drug that stabilizes the cell membrane that is responsible in releasing histamine. (7, 10)

Dermatographic urticaria home remedies

  • Coconut oil – Virgin coconut oil is very good at keeping the skin moisturized. You can also swish the oil in your mouth like a mouthwash to help pulls toxin off the mouth. Not to mention, coconut oil can improve the color of your teeth.
  • Gently scrape the tongue twice a day – Scraping the tongue in a gentle motion using a copper tongue scraper two times a day can help remove toxins off the tongue. Toxins in the body can actually trigger dermatographism.
  • Use mild soap – When taking a bath, you should use mild soap. Choose the soap specially formulated for sensitive skin. Instead of bar soap, you can use organic shower gel or cream.
  • Work on your diet – Make sure you eat a healthy and nutritious food. Include healthy fat in your diet. It would also help if you cut out gluten completely. Gluten foods have inflammatory effect to the body, especially if you are sensitive to gluten. Hence, cutting out gluten from your diet will significantly improve your condition.
  • Hydration – Make sure you drink plenty of fluids every day. Consume at least two to three liters of water to help your body in flushing out toxins from the body.  Stay away from carbonated beverages. You also need to avoid sugar-rich drinks and foods. Water alone is very good in hydrating the body. You might also want to drink natural fruit juices, especially those rich in vitamin A, C, and E. (6, 8)

How to prevent Dermatographic skin?

  • Make sure you do not irritate your skin. There are things we unconsciously do that might irritate the skin such as wearing tight fitting clothes, wearing clothes made from substandard fabric, using of soap with strong chemicals, and taking hot showers.
  • Avoid scratching your skin. Doing so will further aggravate the condition.
  • Keep your skin healthy. Dry skin is the culprit of other skin conditions. Hence, it is a must to keep the skin moisturized. Use gentle soap when taking a bath and do not forget to apply hypoallergenic creams and lotions. (9)

  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org
  2. www.healthline.com
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org
  4. www.skintome.com
  5. www.dermnetnz.org
  6. www.home-remedies-for-you.com
  7. www.drugs.com
  8. howshealth.com
  9. www.dermanities.com
  10. www.gleneaglesglobalhospitals.com