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Causes and Treatment of Dermographism

Causes and Treatment of Dermographism

Dermographism is a baffling skin condition that affects many young adults. While it may not be life-threatening, it remains a source of general discomfort. Here's what you can do to combat this ailment.
Renuka Savant
Last Updated: Apr 23, 2018
Dermographism is a form of urticaria or hives, and it is also referred to as dermatographic urticaria. Dermographism is a skin disorder, which makes the sufferer's skin extremely sensitive to any kind of pressure or friction. In simple terms, it is also known as 'skin writing', as its foremost symptom is inflammation of the skin, when scratched or rubbed. Even a few harsh strokes on the skin result in welts, which actually looks like someone has written on the skin, alluding to the name of this skin condition.
Slight rubbing or friction from heavy clothing causes swelling, and itchy, red welts appear on the skin. They are accompanied by a burning sensation in the affected area. This discomfort lasts for a couple of hours at least; and in certain exceptional cases, may last for several days on end.
Symptoms of dermographism, in some cases, disappear as strangely as they manifest. For some, they may last all throughout their lives. It may not classify as a debilitating condition; however, for those who have to live with it, even mundane tasks seem burdensome.
What is Dermographism?
The mast cells present in the skin's surface act as a defense system, providing protection against pathogens. For people who suffer from dermographism, the membranes around the mast cells are weak. Upon rubbing or scratching, the skin releases histamine, which leads to swelling and breakouts. It looks very similar to an allergic reaction; most sufferers get fooled into believing that they have an allergy to a certain substance, when it is actually just the friction that is responsible for the welts. Normally, these welts disappear within a few hours, but serious cases take longer.
What are the Causes?

✔Dermographism affects 4 to 5% of our total population, but its causes are mostly unknown.
✔In certain people, it is caused due to exposure to extreme temperatures; be it hot or cold.
✔Constricted clothing, friction from wearing jewelry, tight watch straps; anything can trigger a reaction.
✔Temperature variations and other environmental factors can also lead to skin breakouts.
✔At times, emotional stress has also been observed as a possible cause of dermographism.
✔Hereditary factors also have a role to play in the occurrence of this disorder, as do allergies and other related skin problems. Minor itches, rubbing or a slap on the skin leads to eruption of welts.
How is it Treated?

✔ As the discomfort is caused due to the histamines released by the mast cells in the absence of antigens, an antihistamine is usually prescribed by doctors to treat dermographism.
✔ People suffering from this condition are advised to stay away from being out in the sunshine for too long, and they need to be careful in extreme cold climates as well.
✔ Using the correct moisturizer keeps the skin hydrated and prevents the itching caused by dryness.
✔ For some patients, a warm bath brings relief, but this strictly cannot be generalized for everyone.
✔ Certain soaps, lotions or fabrics may cause a rash, so the patient needs to keep away from those and stick to hypoallergenic and biodegradable body care products.
✔ Acupuncture has helped some patients get rid of this condition. With more serious cases, steroids or cortisone have also been prescribed.
The Latest Research Says ...

According to latest research, alternative medicine is seen by some to be a treatment without the side effects brought about by strong chemicals. If some theories are to be believed, the occurrence of dermographism has its roots in a weak immune system. Studies also show a connection between dermographism and thyroid problems, Celiac disease and gluten intolerance; so, addressing these problems is advisable to get rid of this condition. Vitamin C is considered to be a natural antihistamine, which can bring relief. As mentioned before, acupuncture has been practiced by the Chinese to cure people of dermographism since a long time now.
It is difficult to completely get rid of dermographism. In many instances, this disorder does not cause a lot of harm, but the irritability that comes with it can interfere with your regular routine. Learning to treat a hives breakout will help you stay in control and lead a rash-free life.