dermatographism, skin welps and itchy skin

I have dermatographism and have had for 19 years? I semi control it with antihistimines (Zyrtec at present). Does anyone out there know what causes this? My endocrinologist said that sometimes it's caused by mast cell tumors, but since I've had it for so long without any other alarming symptoms, he does not suspect mast cell tumor in my case. Does anybody else have this?

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Well, shutters, another one like me! I've had the same condition for approx. 34 years! I itch constantly to the point I have bruises. Mine has been diagnosed as NERVES. Xanax helps, but nothing has ever taken it away. I'm convinced I'll have it til a week after death. Have you tried atarax? That works wonders for some. Also, I've learned that by simply getting my mind on other things I really don't notice it much. Stress makes it much worse. Two years ago, when my dear sister was dying of cancer, I had it really bad; a few months after her passing it calmed down a lot. I've been to allergists and I have no allergies. Try the atarax (prescription drug). It may work for you. Keep me posted; I'm your "itchy" friend. Also, I know several people with this condition. I don't talk about it much because if I think about it, the itch begins. Good luck.

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Thank you, Desianne. I am so sorry about the loss of your sister.
It is good to hear from someone coping with this same problem. My dermatographism definitely does not seem to be nerves. It has been with me just the same, every single day, even in the easiest of times for over 19 years now, although I do think it's worse than it used to be. (That is not to say that this isn't somehow nerve related.) If I forget to take my antihistamine, my condition will soon remind me. I take Zyrtec every day. I am not a fan of benzodiazapines, so I won't be taking any Xanax. I have tried Atarax, and it works similar to the Zyrtec. I prefer the Zyrtec because it's non-drowsy.
For the most part, I just live my life without dwelling on this. But we all wish we could find the magic bullet to stop it for good! Thank you for responding.

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Hi shutters,

Thank you for your kind condolences regarding my sister.

For many years, I could literally write on my skin and often the welts would last up to 48 hours. Then, after Lord knows how many years, the welts don't show up any more, but the itching sure does! As I'd said in my earlier post, I always have bruises on me somewhere from scratching so hard. Zyrtec, unfortunately, doesn't do anything for me. Mine is called angioNEUROTICedema (catch that "neurotic"?). If yours turns out not to be nerves, then it seems you have more chances of it going away someday. I was just born with a highly anxious nature, and prone to depression, which I inherited from my biological father whom I never even met. If you can stay away from benzodiazapines, I'm the first to endorse that type of thinking. In my case, I have no choice and I've also been on antidepressants since I was 20 (I'm 64 now). All in all, I can honestly say that except during episodes of depression, I'm a very happy person. Contact me any time - sometimes talking to another who has the exact same condition can help tremendously. Good luck and I hope your itch "lies low".

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I had a few years of dermographism. Onset was quick for me. I was exposed to the fumes of an old brewery that was burning. I immediately broke out in an intense allergic reaction with deep painful & itching weals. After initial treatment in ER, my skin developed an extreme sensitivity, raising in itching raised hives with the slightest contact. I could write words on my skin.

After a few years, my dermographism disappeared as I developed symptoms of a rare autoimmune neurological disorder, Stiff Person Syndrome. I have recently started having a minor skin reaction to my infusions only at the insertion site?



I am assuming for me, my dermographism was triggered by an allergic reaction to something toxic in the fumes. I tend to think my dermographism was autoimmune as I developed SPS and diabetes as the dermographism subsided.

Dermographism is a very uncomfortable, sometimes painful, condition. I wish you both well. ;)

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Hi Betty-Oops & shutters,

Betty, thanks for your well-wishes, The itching can be so annoying! Oh well, at least it's not the worst thing in the world. Shuttters, I literally never drink alcohol due to my diabetes and all the meds I take, but years ago (maybe 35 years or so), even one drink would get me itching something awful! They say aspirin can also make it much worse but aside from bothering my stomach, aspirin doesn't have any effect on my itch. I just wish it would go away, but after having it all these years I don't hold out much hope for that. I have known a couple of people where it did actually disappear, but I have a feeling I won't be that lucky :) Please keep in touch, both of you. And happy holidays!

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Hi Desianne and Betty.

Betty, my heart goes out to you, especially with your stiff person syndrome. I NEVER assume anything! I don't assume that something debilitating like that isn't in my near future. In fact, I worry that it could happen. And when I look at it as an either/or situation, it's a no-brainer, I'll happily keep the dermatographism. Thank goodness people can find others with the same problems on this site.

Desianne, I haven't noticed alcohol causing my dermatographism to flair. But I don't drink often at all. Many times I would like a drink, though! In fact, other than pressure sensitivity, I can't say that any particular thing makes my dermatographism flair. I do l have hypothyroidism, for which I take synthroid. The only other meds I take are Nexium for acid reflux and of course the Zyrtec for itching. So just 3 meds for me. But I would love a whisky and coke on this cold winter day!

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Hi shutters,

Then if you can enjoy an occasional drink that's not bad. With my itch, even a tiny bit of alcohol would set it off. I'd never heard of Stiff Person Syndrome til I came here - will look it up. Best of luck to you and Betty! Hey - at least we have each other who understands :)

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Hi again shutters,

We have even more in common - acid reflux! But that's the least of my worries. I take two prilosec/day; I'd actually developed ulcers in my esophagus. Also, I'm like you in that I take nothing for granted - I worry about everything and when I hear of a new disease, I automatically assume I'm going to get it, LOL. Been this way since I was a kid. Very high-strung and a terrible hypochondriac. But would you believe I produced a stable psychologist?? Thank God! He has a little anxiety but that's all; he's never been depressed and I'm so thankful for that. I'm so glad I met you and Betty - I wonder which one of us will get Hypochondriac of the Year Award? I'd sure never make it through medical school! Actually, I doubt either one of you is a hypochondriac, so I apologize (please forgive me) but I sure am! I hope we never lose touch with each other, and I wish you both the best of holidays. Love, peace and joy to you and your families :)

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Hi Ladies,

Well, well, well....I sure am sorry to hear about the troubles suffered by each one of you. I can certainly feel your pain...or would that be "itch?" I have dermatographism, asthma, allergies (to alcohol and many other things I was never allergic to before), flushing, mysterious rashes, and on and on. It has been a faily gradual (5 yrs) increase of symptoms for me, but a tough 5 years all the same.

Betty, it is interesting to hear you say that you have SPS, I'm also sorry to hear that as well. I've been thinking for sometime that I may have Scleroderma (CREST) as I also have horrible stiffness and swelling in my hands & feet (terrible in a.m.), GERD, choke very easily, Telangiectasias & Raynaud's.

I'm very frustrated as my doctors only want to individually treat symptoms, not really delve into the possible underlying condition.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and thanks for listening.

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hello. I know that I might seem crazy because its midnight on christmas. But I recently got diagnosed with dermatographism and my doctor is testing me for cancer. My family is very concerned. And im just wondering if anyone else had that done. Im only 20, and it seems all too crazy, I don't even know how I got this disease. I currently am taking atarax and xyzal. They help, but it is still there. I get really bad welts with even then lightest scratch. It is so irritating also. And during finals week it was the worst because I was stressing. Reading all of you're posts helped me a little because im not the only one going through this.
Merry Christmas!

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Cancer is not usually the first suspicion with dermatographism, so I hope you won't be overly worried. Dermatographism can be an autoimmune condition, and I suspect that's what it is in my case. Granted, it's annoying, but it's only slightly inconvenient in the grand scheme of things. Please take heart and enjoy your holiday.
Merry Christmas,

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Hi AnneFairfax,

Sorry you have so many unpleasant symptoms - I do also - but welcome to the group. I haven't been here that long but I'm finding it's a great support system.

Hoping your Christmas (which is today) is happy and enjoyable!

Talk to ya soon.

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Hi dreamer,

Sorry you seem to have this awful itch too. Being checked for cancer? I never heard of that for this condition, so please don't worry. In all probability, you're just stuck with this "itching curse" that is not dangerous at all, but very annoying. I wish mine were an allergy, as then meds would probably help it.

Are you under any extra stress lately? Just wondering, as stress can cause this condition - but not always. Please let us know what the diagnosis is, and again - I'm no doctor but I highly doubt it has anything at all to do with cancer. But listen to your doctor and let him do tests he thinks are necessary.

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I have had dermatographism since childhood but only mild itching. The boy across the street coincidently had it also and we used to think that everybody had it. We used to scratch messages on our arms and watch the message wheals magically appear. I still do that with my wife, who is an allergist, to get a laugh.

DR David

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I am not any more stress than I usually am. I work two jobs and go to college full time. So I am always doing something. I itch a lot. whenever I change clothes it itches really bad! Does anybody know how we got this strange disease? It is the most annoying thing ever!

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I came down with condition almost 3 years ago. When my son turned 6 months old I remember the itching and welping started and it scared me to death. I went to my doc and she said that she has heard of this happening after having a baby. She prescribed me Claritin. The claritin worked well for about a year and then it seemed to stop working as effectively. So I decided to try benadryl which didnt really help. I tried zyrtec for about a month and It helped a little. I dont know what to do next. Does anyone have any suggestions? THank you so much and I am so sorry to hear that you all have to live with this also. It is very annoying!

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I don't know what your dosage schedule is. I take 20mg Zyrtec (2 pills) every night. All I'm saying is: You might increase your Zyrtec. Also, some people use Zantac in addition to Zyrtec. Although Zantac is for stomach problems, it's a certain class of histamine blocker (I think they're called H2 blockers), and it may help you. It's over-the-counter, so it's worth a try. Hope that helps.

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I too have had dermatographism for about 8 years. At first 1 Zyrtec/day took care of my symptoms. Over the years I have had to gradually increase my dose. I am now taking 4 10mg Zyrtec pills per day supplemented by Zantac for acid release and Benadryl as needed. Since all the antihistamines we take are histamine receptor antagonists, it seems our bodies naturally become immune to their effects and/or start to release more histamine in response. I have found that periodically changing the type of antihistamine I use mitigates this effect somewhat. I have also found that some other types of drugs that are re-uptake inhibitors (i.e. certain serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) eliminate my dermatographism symptoms as well.

I have been researching other compounds that bind to H1 receptors, as this seems to be the fastest way to eliminate the main symptoms.

For now I am varying the types of histamine antagonists I use to try and limit the tolerance my body builds to them.

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Thanks for your reply and input. Please let us know what you find out on the compounds that bind to H1 receptors.

In the last few months, I have been able to successfully reduce my dosage of Zyrtec (to treat the dermatographism) back down to 10 mg daily, taken in a single dose in the evening. Other than Zyrtec, my only prescription now is Synthroid for hypothyroidism. I took Nexium (or some variation) for acid reflux for many years, but with a lot of fortitude and patience, I have now eliminated the need for it. If I have a bout of reflux, I just take Mylanta.

Your itchy friend,

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