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What is Dermatographia?

Dermatographia, also known as skin writing, is a skin disorder where light scratching of the skin creates raised red bruises. When people with dermatographia scratch their skin lightly, the scratches turn into a raised wound that looks like hives. These marks usually disappear within 30 minutes. This illness affects about 5% of the population, with older children and adults being the most affected. 

Although the symptoms do not last long, there is no cure for this illness. In rare cases, a dermatologist will have to provide medical treatment. 

What are the symptoms of Dermatographia?

Dermatographia symptoms appear mostly when the skin is scratched. These signs and symptoms might develop suddenly and without notice. The following are some of the signs and symptoms of dermatographia: 

  • Redness 
  • Raised marks on the skin 
  • Bruises that resemble hives 
  • Itchiness 
  • Inflammation or swelling 

Extreme temperatures and dry weather might worsen the symptoms, and they can persist for about 30 minutes to a day or more.

Consult a doctor if the signs and symptoms are very severe. 

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What are the causes of dermatographia?

Though the exact causes of dermatographia are not known, the conditions that can trigger them include:

  • Allergies
  • History of stress 
  • Excessive irritation from clothing  
  • Infections 
  • Antibiotics, such as penicillin 
  • Excessive rubbing of the skin 

What are the possible risk factors associated with dermatographia?

Dermatographia is more likely :

  • If you have a dry complexion 
  • If you are a young adult with a history of dermatitis (skin irritation) 
  • If you scratch the skin regularly 
  • If you have thyroid problems 
  • If you have itchy skin as a result of a nerve disorder or an interior condition 

How is dermatographia diagnosed and treated?


Doctors can diagnose dermatographia with a simple test by drawing the tongue depressor across the skin of your arm or back to check if a swollen line, red, or a welt (wheal) appears within a few minutes.


  1. Conventional treatment

Dermatographia is typically treated with non sedating antihistamines purchased over-the-counter. Cromolyn, a prescription medicine, has also proven beneficial in some circumstances. Antihistamines do not work for everyone with skin writing, but several therapies can help ease the symptoms. 

  • Lifestyle measures

The following are recommended as alternative treatments for dermatographia: 

  • Adhering to a balanced diet that emphasizes fruits and vegetables while avoiding high-fat, processed meals. 
  • Keeping hydrated by drinking water and avoiding alcoholic and sugar-sweetened beverages. 
  • Using natural items like coconut oil or shea butter to moisturize the skin. 
  • Taking care of oneself by getting proper sleep and nurturing one’s body and mind. 
  • Using cold compresses, aloe vera gel (chilled), or even cold running water to relieve itching. 

Stress reduction may also help lessen the likelihood of dermatographia flare-ups. For example, deep breathing exercises are used in yoga and meditation to help reduce stress. Regular exercise can also increase the production of feel-good endorphins in the brain, which can help to avoid stress before it occurs. 

What are some of the preventive techniques that can be followed for treating dermatographia?

Try these strategies to relieve discomfort and prevent dermatographia symptoms: 

  • Avoid irritating the skin – Avoid using abrasive soaps on the skin. Wearing clothing composed of scratchy materials, such as wool, is not recommended. Showers or baths in hot water might increase the symptoms. 
  • Don’t scratch the skin – Avoid scratching the skin if you have diseases that cause persistent itching. It can make the problem worse. 
  • Keep the skin moisturized – Itchy skin is a result of dry skin. After bathing, use lotions and creams to keep the skin hydrated. 


Dermatographia symptoms don’t stay long, yet the disorder might last for years. This means that if one scratches the skin frequently, they may have symptoms regularly. Consult a dermatologist if the symptoms don’t respond to over-the-counter medications to receive drugs or ointments to help relieve symptoms.

Verified By Apollo Dermatologist

The content is carefully chosen and thoughtfully organized and verified by our panel expert dermatologists who have years of experience in their field. We aim to spread awareness to all those individuals who are curious and would like to know more about their skin and beauty

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