Recently I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Basically what that means is I have an under-active thyroid. It’s an autoimmune disorder, similar to dermatographia in that the immune system is involved. With Hashimoto’s the immune system starts attacking the thyroid gland because of inflammation and a number of other factors. [Some say it’s actually caused by a virus and is not an autoimmune disorder, but that’s not what I’ll be focusing on in this post.]
In all my research (I’ve been doing a ton lately), I found a connection between Hashimoto’s and urticaria, or hives. A 2014 study found that almost 25% of people with chronic urticaria had Hashimoto’s. That’s a really high number!
“People with Hashimoto’s are more likely to develop the skin condition chronic spontaneous urticaria, also known as chronic hives which is manifested by widespread, itchy and swollen skin rashes. These hives can be very distressful and they can seem to come up randomly. 42 scientific studies have linked Hashimoto’s with chronic hives!” -Dr. Izabella Wentz
Now, I don’t think that I necessarily had Hashimoto’s the entire time I’ve had dermatographia, but that’s not to say the two aren’t connected. Urticaria can be an early sign of thyroid issues (not always–only in some cases). If you’ve been experiencing other symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, loss of hair, carpal tunnel, joint pain, brain fog, and things of that nature, I suggest you get your thyroid levels tested and talk to your doctor about this possibility immediately.
Since my diagnosis, I stopped eating gluten completely. Apparently it’s really bad to eat gluten when you have a thyroid condition because the immune system can mistake the thyroid for gluten and attack it. Previously I had just cut back on gluten and noticed my dermatographia lessen, but now that I’ve completely eliminated it my dermatographia and itch is even less. Yay!
I’ve also cut back on dairy. Many people say completely eliminating dairy helps the thyroid heal. As usual with autoimmune conditions, it depends on the individual, but for me I’m definitely seeing an improvement in my overall health eating less dairy. [update: in 2017 I gave up dairy completely and it has really helped me feel better!]
Just in the last two weeks I’ve started taking an iodine supplement a few times a week. That’s totally giving me more energy! I notice too that my bloating is lessening (a major symptom of hypothyroidism is weight gain along with bloating). Just be careful with iodine though if you decide to take it because it doesn’t always help people with thyroid issues feel better (sometimes it can worsen the condition). Definitely speak with your doctor before taking supplements. [update: I no longer take iodine because I found it was making me feel worse]
Speaking of supplements, selenium and vitamin E have been helping me as well. The best way to take them is together, on an empty stomach. I’ve also read that it’s helpful to use oil with vitamin E in it (like sweet almond oil) on your skin to increase absorption. Magnesium oil is another great one for skin–you absorb it really well when it’s applied topically, as opposed to a magnesium supplement you’d ingest. Many people are deficient in magnesium so it’s a good one to supplement.
Probiotics are another great thing to take for basically anything. I take a probiotic pill every morning and feel like it’s helped my digestion a ton.
One thing I’m going to do soon is a parasite cleanse. In my research I’ve found that there’s a link between skin issues (like chronic urticaria) and the presence of parasites, namely Blastocystis hominis (Blasto for short), in one’s gut–ewwwww! If you have gut and digestion issues then that will only add to the problem. And parasites have been shown to cause leaky gut, which can breed autoimmunity issues. There’s tons of information out there on parasite cleanses if you want to try it out and learn more. There’s even some things you can eat regularly that will help kill parasites, like pumpkin seeds.
These are just my preliminary findings. I will be updating this post as I come across new information. In the meantime, I hope this helps and please comment below if you have seen or experienced a connection between Hashimoto’s and dermatographia!
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