The following is written by Skinwriter Anonymous. I wrote some thoughts on the matter below his story.
Some breakthroughs fixing my Dermatographia urticaria by Skinwriter Anonymous (19 july 2014)
I spend much time going through all message boards, articles and publications since the day I discovered I had dermatographia, trying to find a solution or at least a clue that would cause some relief. I feel obligated to type out my own experience and add a possible solution (or at least a clue) to what is already known about this condition.
* Just skip to the last 3 paragraphs if you want to avoid my tearjerker life history ramblings:
A little history. I’m a 30 year old male and about 1.5 years ago amidst a very stressful period I developed dermatographia. It started on a random day: someone noticed my face and neck were red. I looked in the mirror and it was swollen. I figured an insect bit me or some other allergic reaction. Later that day I found out that wherever I would touch myself: it would get red, swell and start itching. A mosquito bite type of itch, impossible to ignore.
Not familiar with dermatographia and having a history with allergies I figured some substance was on my hands or in my direct environment that caused all this. For a week I spend most of my time washing all things in my environment, my clothes, my bed and so on to get this ‘stuff’ that made me allergic out of my environment and system. It didn’t help, my skin condition only got worse: the smallest touch (where before I had to scratch) would make my skin itchy and swell like an insect bite for 30-45 minutes. After a week it got so bad that changing clothes, walking, sitting, shaking someones hand or anything else that created pressure on the body would cause itching and swelling from hell on and near the area touched.
Sometimes at night I would scratch myself by accident causing swelling and itching, I would scratch more, more swelling and itching and by the time I realized what I was doing 1⁄3 of my body would be swollen (legs, back, buttocks, stomach area!): the appearance identical to that of someone who had scar tissue from a severe fire accident. Swollen, thick, itchy hot skin. Terrible.
By then I realized it was not a normal allergy, not caused by some external factors and the internet taught me about Dermtographia. I could write texts on my skin! After hours (days!) of obsessive internet research most people seem to indicate it is food related so the months that followed I focused on food: changing diets, leaving out certain ingredients, trying oats, adding vitamins, trying different brands of mineral water: all ideas and tips available on the net I tried them. Nothing worked. (Only thing I did notice that for some reason my symptoms got worse after eating a lot of processed sugars. Drinking cola or eating McDonalds for example would almost instantly create an itch attack causing my skin to swell much faster than normal.).
After some month where i could find nothing that would make any _substantial_ difference I decided to move on to the next phase: antihistamines: I bought a random type of antihistamine (‘first generation’ as I later learned) and wow: no more swelling and itching after 30 minutes taking a small pill! What a relief! No more itching! But within a few hours I learned about the downsides: I got tired, decided to take a small nap.. and woke up 24 hours later! Heavy sedation from a pill just a few millimeters big for almost 48 hours. Not good!
Second disadvantage: although no more itching and swelling: the anti histamine seemed to make my skin even more red when touched and not just red: a more unnatural type of red that would last for an hour instead of 30 minutes: touching my face, neck or hands by accident during the day really made me look like a clown.
During this period I also did several blood and urine tests even an allround STD test: all came out normal. I soon discovered second generation antihistamines (that would still make me tired but not as much) but unfortunately they all caused my skin to turn orange instead of red when touched. If you intend to take antihistamine daily take a half or even 1⁄4 of a pill instead of 1. Same effect after a week of buildup, your body will not become resistant to it as fast as when you take 1 a day and less side effects (sedation). Hard to believe such small pill can be so powerful but it works…. If after some months the effects of your antihistamine become less: switch to another one.)
After 9 months or so I got used to my condition, quit using antihistamines and ‘trained’ myself enough to avoid most things that would cause symptoms. (interesting how your brain adapts, from how you shave, sit down, take of your tshirt, touch your neck, learn to not scratch yourself when you itchy etc. You automatically adapt your habits to avoid skin pressure). Except for public embarrassment (shopping for clothes and trying them on in the shop? or getting a haircut anyone..?) I got used to it.
A month ago i developed a urinal tract/bladder infection. Nothing special, just painful when peeing. So I went to the doctor and he prescribed me an antibiotic. 2 pills a day for 7 days. Simple treatment. I took the pills, 3 days later my bladder infection symptoms went away. All good.
Next day I walked on the street with a girl and we were fooling around and as a joke she grabbed me by my neck with her hand. She didn’t know I have dermatographia but I of course knew that 3 minutes later my neck would be so swollen and red it would look as if someone had tried to strangle me…oh boy. 3 minutes later i looked into a mirror to see how bad the ‘damage’ was and i was stunned: just a few spots where her fingers touched my neck but nothing severe! 5 minutes later even those spots were already gone and my neck was back normal!
I quickly found myself a paperclip and did some scratch tests on my arms and hands: skin would still become a bit more red compared to a ‘normal’ person but no more swelling and itching!! And 5 minutes later the red would already disappear. Conclusion: my Dermatographia disappeared for at least 90% compared to a week earlier!!
My obvious conclusion is that there is a relationship between the antibiotic treatment and the disappearance of most of my Dermatographia symptoms. During my research days I did find a few messages on several messageboards claiming people’s symptoms went away after ‘their infection was healed” but didn’t put much weight to it.
Another thing that changed since my small antibiotics treatment that could be a clue: bowel movements. I wasn’t really aware I had a problem with this (they were irregular and I always had issues with my bowels but have a terrible diet and fast lifestyle so I figured this was the cause) but since my antibiotics treatment I am ‘regular’ and somewhat ‘normal’ again.
This leads me to 2 conclusions:
Although no signs of any infection, viruses, yeast fungal issues or other things were found during lab tests I did earlier: Maybe somewhere in my system there is/was a bacterial infection that also caused my dermatographia symptoms and it got fixed with the antibiotics treatment. Maybe it was a bacterial imbalance in my bowel system causing my Dermatographia symptoms and it got fixed with the antibiotics treatment. The latter seems most logical because I suppose any other infection in the body for over 1.5 years would have caused some symptoms (pain).
I hope this information may be useful or a piece of the puzzle for someone out there trying to solve the mystery of this condition that seems to come and go without a clear reason.
Skinwriter Anonymous 19 july 2014
Thanks for your input, Skinwriter! This is really interesting because I’ve actually heard the opposite: that antibiotics caused dermatographia. It could be that it was an allergic reaction to the antibiotics–I myself am allergic to penicillin and got a rash the first time I took it–and maybe the antibiotics themselves weren’t the cause. It would be interesting to learn that dermatographia is linked to infection, although I think since it is so different for every individual, this is likely not the case across the board.
I do believe that dermatographia is linked to toxicity, so having increased bowel movements definitely helps since your system is moving–getting rid of waste. Great news that your digestive system is working well ;’) ! I’ve also noticed a link between processed food and itchiness. Since I started eating healthier (more fruits and veggies, no processed foods, drinking tons of water, and the biggest thing: no gluten!), my symptoms have eased up. It really works! Especially since certain foods can trigger an outbreak. Doing an elimination diet to find out what you’re allergic to is extremely helpful. Personally, I avoid antibiotics and haven’t taken them for years, but by all means, it may be worth a try since it worked so well for Skinwriter Anonymous!
Please leave a comment below if you’ve found a link between dermatographia and antibiotics. I’m curious to learn more!
Image courtesy of Skinwriter Anonymous. This shows how quickly the welt goes away since his symptoms have almost disappeared after taking the antibiotics.