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Dermatographia (skin writing) is a skin condition where the irritation of skin develops into a prominent reaction that disappears within 30 minutes. It is also called as dermographism or demographic urticaria. A light scratch on the skin may develop into a wheal resembling hives in people affected with dermatographia.

This condition is caused by infections, emotional stress and medications. The skin hives develop in the areas where the skin has been rubbed, scratched or irritated. In some cases, dermatographia may worsen causing deep wounds and allergy-like reactions. It is a self-limiting condition, but in some cases over-the-counter allergy medications are required.


The following are the signs and symptoms of dermatographia:

  • Raised red lines
  • Deep wounds
  • Inflammation
  • Swelling
  • Itching


The exact cause of dermatographia is unknown. However, the following are believed to be some of the causes of dermatographia:

  • Physical activities involving excessive skin rubbing, such as wrestling can cause dermatographia.
  • Excessive friction from clothing or bedding may result in dermatographia.
  • Certain medications, including penicillin, have the potential to develop dermatographia.
  • People with a history of allergy are more likely to develop this condition.
  • Infections may lead to dermatographia condition.
  • Emotional distress can cause dermatographia.


The following are the risk factors of dermatographia.

  • Presence of nerve disorder or an internal illness that causes itchy skin
  • Frequent scratches on the skin
  • History of skin inflammation
  • Thyroid disorder
  • Age (adults)
  • Dry skin


Dermatographia is generally a harmless skin condition. In many of the cases, the symptoms may resolve by themselves.


Skin test: The doctor may test the skin for any adverse reactions by simply dragging a portion of the skin with a tongue depressor. The doctor may measure the skin's response to pressure using a dermagraphometer.


 Medical treatment:

Dermatographia is a self-limiting condition and does not require treatment in many cases. However, over-the-counter allergy medications are used to relieve signs and symptoms.

Loratadine, fexofenadine, diphenhydramine and cetirizine are some of the preferred antihistamines.


Phototherapy is also known as light therapy. In severe cases, the doctor may treat the patient with radiation therapy specially designed for skin disorders. The affected part of the skin is exposed to some amount of radiation to reduce or prevent the growth of skin cells. Thus, it helps in treating the inflammation on the skin.

Alternative treatments:

The following are the alternative treatment methods used to relieve symptoms of dermatographia.

  • Avoiding foods that may promote inflammation (red meat, fried foods)
  • Cooling the itchy skin with cold running water and aloe vera gel
  • Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water
  • Applying oatmeal, tea tree oil
  • Applying moisturizer regularly
  • Practicing yoga and exercises
  • Maintaining healthy diet
  • Getting enough rest


Dermatographia can be prevented by following measures:

  • Avoiding medications that may cause allergy
  • Using soaps free from dyes and chemicals
  • Avoiding clothes that irritate the skin
  • Taking cool or lukewarm showers
  • Practicing yoga or exercise daily
  • Using humidifier in dry months
  • Moisturizing the skin daily
  • Preventing skin scratch
  • Treating itchy skin
  • Managing stress

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