WHAT IS DERMATOGRAPHIA?
Dermatographia is a condition also known as skin writing. When people who have dermatographia lightly scratch their skin, the scratches redden into raised welts similar to hives. It affects about 5% of the world population, every age, race, and class.
There is no cure, but with some experimentation you can learn what your triggers are–what causes your skin to become extra sensitive–and then avoid those triggers to find relief. Some people choose to take antihistamines for their condition, but I believe with patience and perseverance we can treat our dermatographia naturally, without antihistamines taxing our system. Check out the posts below for more information about dermatographia, including tips to ease the itch, how to do an elimination diet to help heal dermatographia, and whether or not dermatographs can get tattooed (yes, we can :-). Click here and you’ll see even more posts where I feature other skin writers and their art. There’s lots of information and inspiration to be found… Be sure to read the comments too for more helpful tips!
To find out if you are one of the 5% who has dermatographia, lightly scratch your arm with your fingernail. If a welt shows up in about 5 minutes or so, congratulations, you’re a skin writer!
PRODUCTS I RECOMMEND TO HELP EASE THE ITCH:
I often get asked which products I use to help keep the itch away. If you’re looking for recommendations, here are a few things that are good for those of us with sensitive skin.
[Note, this page contains affiliate links. Although I encourage you to buy local whenever possible, if you use these links to purchase the products I recommend, I may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) which helps keep the Skintome community alive. Thank you for your support! <3 ]
Dr. Bronner’s Unscented Castille soap is great if you’re looking for a liquid soap. This works well for hand washing and in the shower. You can buy the large bottles and refill these foaming soap containers for an economical and low waste option.
If you’re looking for a bar soap, it also comes in bar form. Personally I prefer bar soap in the shower and liquid soap for the sink. Dr. Bronner’s also makes scented soaps that aren’t too overwhelming. I’m fond of the lavender and eucalyptus myself. They smell amazing!
As for laundry detergent, Clean People makes one that is all natural, good for sensitive skin, comes in sheets so you’re not buying plastic and it works great. If you’re looking for a powder detergent, Rockin Green makes one that also works well.
If you’re looking for a stain remover, try this one by Puracy. It contains enzymes that help lift stains. I think it does a great job getting clothes clean, and it’s not full of chemicals!
Please don’t use dryer sheets! They’re toxic and just make extra garbage. You really don’t need them if you use something like these wool laundry balls when drying clothes. These last for a really long time–you just keep them in the dryer and use them with every load. Bonus: they help your clothes dry faster to save on energy use!
My favorite moisturizers are sweet almond oil and coconut oil. Sweet almond oil is already in a liquid state so is super easy to use–I use it to wash my face and in the shower I use it like soap to wash my body. Regular coconut oil is awesome, I love the Dr. Bronner’s kind. Liquid coconut oil is easier to use in the shower and as moisturizer (plus the kind I recommend is organic and great to cook with). But both work well!
If you prefer lotion, Babo makes a nice one that doesn’t irritate my skin. I use it every single day to help keep the itch at bay, even on my young son. If you prefer something with colloidal oatmeal, try this one, also by Babo (they’re one of my very favorite brands). For extra moisture, Earth Mama makes a great salve that is very soothing to irritated skin (yes it’s technically diaper balm but it’s the best for super dry skin). Shea butter is another great moisturizer that is unscented and very nonirritating. I love using shea butter on my elbows if they get rough.
I finally found a deodorant that works really well (for a natural deodorant) and smells divine! It’s Magsol Lavender deodorant–definitely try it if you’re looking for something new. Bonus, it contains magnesium so you’re getting a supplement every time you use it!
If you’re looking for a great shaving cream for sensitive skin, try Dr. Bronner’s organic shaving soap. It’s the only thing I’ve found that doesn’t irritate my legs/armpits when I shave them. I do prefer the unscented variety but they have nice scented options as well. It takes some getting used to because it’s not shaving cream (it’s kind if liquidy), but it still lathers well. I use Schick Quattro razors for sensitive skin and haven’t had any issues. Just make sure you change the razors regularly. Sharp blades are less likely to irritate.
To moisturize my face I use Cocokind’s chia seed oil and, because my skin is really dry, sometimes I follow that with this amazing lavender and myrrh face cream by Fatco. I also love Cocokind’s moisturizing stick–you can use it on lips, face, anywhere!
If you have dry, rough skin like I do, try the Exfoliating Acid Potion made by Moon Juice. I know I know, it seems counter intuitive to put something containing acid on sensitive skin but trust me, this stuff is magic! My skin has never felt so soft. Use this link for $20 off. I also love their serum and face cream. So nourishing!
The best sunblock, in my opinion, is by Babo. They make a tinted one for the face too. I also like MyChelle. The tinted one can be a bit drying, so I mostly use ACURE un-tinted sunblock for my face. They don’t leave a white residue on your skin like some zinc sunblocks, and doesn’t contain toxic chemical filters like oxybenzone. To find out more about chemicals in sunscreens, check out this article on the Environmental Working Group site.
If you use brown mascara, try this one by Mineral Fusion. They make it in black as well. I don’t use too much makeup myself, but do like Vapour foundation on those rare occasions I need something on my face. I’ve also heard BeautyCounter and RMS make excellent all natural options.
For those of us who menstruate, be careful with the pads and tampons you use. They’re usually made with bleached and chemically treated cotton that is terrible for your body. I recommend using a menstrual cup, which takes a little getting used to but is actually way better and easier than tampons (also much much cheaper)! If you prefer to use pads and/or tampons, please be sure to use organic ones like these from Natracare and Cora.
As for shampoo, I finally found one that doesn’t irritate my skin! It’s another ACURE product, the argan and pumpkin one I find to be the most nourishing/gentle for my scalp.
I also brush my hair nightly with a wooden bristled brush to distribute my scalp’s natural oils, and massage my scalp afterwards to keep my hair from getting greasy. Brushing and massaging help get rid of any lingering dirt from the day, and distribute your natural oils.
In addition to using all-natural products for your hair and skin, I think probiotics are super helpful for easing the itch. There are many different probiotics out there, but I’ve found PB8 makes a good one that doesn’t contain any dairy. And the nice thing is, they don’t need to be refrigerated. It’s an affordable option too! If you need something beyond probiotics, like a little extra help with digestion, try Atrantil. It’s a supplement designed to help relieve bloating, abdominal discomfort and changes in bowel habits (constipation/diarrhea) by getting rid of problem bacteria in the small bowel. It’s helped me tremendously!
To help with proper elimination (if you’re not pooping at least once a day, you’re not pooping enough) I have had success with this product called Intestinal Mover from Microbe. It helps your colon work more efficiently and works really well. Start off slow because it’s powerful.
I found a really awesome bone broth collagen supplement from Paleo Valley that I think helps my skin stay supple and less sensitive. They guarantee all of their products so you can return them if they don’t work out for you.
Sleep is another thing that’s super important when you’re healing (and always really). I’ve found that in order to sleep my best, I need to wear earplugs and a sleep mask. Those two things have helped improve my sleep immensely!
If you prefer to shop somewhere besides Amazon or your local health food store, try Thrive Market. They offer most of these products for less than you can find at Amazon or Whole Foods. When you use this link you’ll get 40% off your first order! They are membership based, but the amount you save shopping there makes it totally worth it.
If you’re having a tough time dealing with your dermatographia, or anything else in life, therapy might really help. I’ve found that since COVID started and we’ve been social distancing, life feels extra stressful. I started using Better Help, an online counseling service that is absolutely amazing. I’ve only been doing it for 1 month and already feel so much better! They have webinars, weekly online therapy sessions, worksheets to help you process emotions/events, and a bunch of other helpful resources. If you feel like you could use some extra support, use this link to try Better Help free for a week and see if it’s a good fit.
I know you probably don’t expect to see a toilet paper recommendation on here, but I’m just so excited about this company, I have to share! I love Cloud Paper toilet paper. They use sustainable bamboo instead of trees, and you get a box (or as many boxes as you need) delivered automatically so you never have to worry about running out! They’re a great company based in Seattle and I highly recommend them. Use this link to save $5 off your first order.
I hope this helps! Please let me know what works for you.
Note, I encourage you to buy local whenever possible but if you use these links to purchase the products I recommend, I may earn a small commission. It doesn’t cost anything extra for you, and by using my links you’ll help keep the Skintome community alive :=)
Thank you for your support!