Is Dermatographia an Autoimmune Disease?

Reviewed on 2/25/2021
The exact cause of dermatographia is unknown.
The exact cause of dermatographia is unknown.

The exact cause of dermatographia is unknown. However, it appears to be an autoimmune disease in nature because autoantibodies to certain skin proteins have been found in some patients. Dermatographia can be linked to the inappropriate release of the chemical histamines. Besides, several factors may also trigger a hive-like reaction, including:

What is dermatographia?

Dermatographia or dermatographism is a benign skin condition in which there is an exaggerated skin healing tendency in response to pressure or rubbing. They are also known as skin writing or dermatographic urticaria. People with this condition develop a localized, hive-like reaction while scratching their skin. These marks usually fade within 30 minutes. The hive-like rash usually appears on the scalp, in the genital area, and on the soles of the feet.

Dermatographia doesn’t require treatment. If the signs and symptoms seem bothersome, the doctor may recommend allergy medications, such as Cetirizine or Diphenhydramine.

What are the symptoms of dermatographia?

The signs and symptoms of dermatographia include:

The symptoms of dermatographia may appear suddenly and disappear within 30 minutes. Dermatographia may develop slowly and last for several hours to days.

Who is at risk of getting dermatographia?

Dermatographia is common in teenagers and young adults. However, there is a probability of older adults experiencing the symptoms. Some other risk factors include:

It commonly affects 2-5% of the general population.

How is dermatographia diagnosed?

The dermatologist takes down the patient’s history. They will examine the existing hives or observe their appearance in response to a gentle movement of a tongue depressor over the skin.

The physician will likely use a tongue depressor to draw or press on the skin of the arm or back to check if hives appear.

What are the treatments for dermatographism?

If the symptoms of dermatographism do not go away within 30 minutes, one may require:

How to prevent dermatographism?

The severity of dermatographism can be reduced by following these steps:

  • Follow a good skincare routine and avoid using harsh soaps, lotions, or other products that may dry or irritate the skin
  • Avoid wearing irritating fabrics, such as wool
  • Regularly moisturize the skin
  • Wear loose cotton clothes and avoid tight-fitting clothes
  • Avoid taking extremely hot or cold showers or baths
  • Be gentle when towel-drying after swimming or bathing
  • Consume plenty of non-inflammatory foods, such as seafood rich in omega-3 fatty acids, leafy greens (kale and spinach), tomatoes, fruits, and olive oil
  • Avoid overexposure to sunlight and apply sunscreen to the skin

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References
Mayo Clinic. Dermatographia. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dermatographia/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20371415

Cleveland Clinic. Dermatographism (Dermatographia). https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17793-dermatographism-dermatographia

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