Hi my name is Tina and I live in NY, I was excited to find there were other people like me. At times I have fun with dermatographia and sometimes I get irritated by it because I can’t pop a pimple or scratch my skin without being swollen, burning or stinging. I want to thank you because seeing how well you embrace this has put me at ease and I just wanted to drop you a line to say thank you.
Tina and I started emailing about dermatographia recently, and I asked her a few questions about her experience. She also shared a funny anecdote about her home country, Jamaica:
I’m originally from Jamaica. I’ve only been in the US close to six years now. All my Jamaican friends make fun of me saying, “If you were in Jamaica I bet you that wouldn’t happen to you” or in the real Jamaican patois, “If yuh did deh a yuh yaad them sintin deh wouldn’t happen tuh yuh,” …haha Jamaicans know nothing about these things, well as far a I know lol.
Ariana Page Russell (APR): Ha, thanks for sharing that! I love the accent ;’) When and how did you find out you have dermatographia?
Tina Monice (TM): I found out I have dermatographia almost 3 months ago. I found out from the dermatologist, I was having symptoms like swelling if I scratched, itching at night mostly after a hot bath. After trying allergy meds, changing detergent, as well as my body wash and not using body sprays and perfume got me no results, I decided to visit my dermatologist who told me what I had right away. She drew a tic-tac-toe on my arm while collecting some info from me and there it was plain as day in as little as 5 mins. Then she told me I had Dermatographia.
(APR): How long have you had it? Is there any event and/or medication that you think may have triggered it?
(TM): I’ve had it about 4 months now. I actually thought I was having an allergic reaction at first. I’m asthmatic and I have migraines but honestly I don’t know what could have triggered it. That’s a mystery to me.
(APR): What are your symptoms and how do you manage them? Do you take antihistamines, for example?
(TM): My symptoms are if I scratch, I swell up and if I scratch my back I look like I’m been in the movie “12 Years A Slave” like someone was whipping the hell outta me. I take Benedryl when the itching won’t stop and It becomes unbearable to sleep. If it’s like that in the day then I’ll take Claritin.
(APR): Do most people know you have dermatographia or do you keep it to yourself?
(TM): Not most people. My family and close friends know but honestly besides my husband I don’t think they know the severity of what I have. I don’t hide it but have not been around anyone besides my husband who sees how I get when I itch.
(APR): How does it make you feel (embarrassed, proud, annoyed, etc.)?
(TM): I’m not sure how I really feel yet, at times I get annoyed when it itches and burns which isn’t often. I hate that I can’t pop pimples without my husband knowing lol. At times I have fun with it, like my husband and I were just on our late honeymoon in the Bahamas and I got free drinks for us and a few strangers because I wrote the DJ name on my arm and he was fascinated by it. They thought it was cool.
(APR): It is cool! ;’) What do you like about your skin? Dislike?
(TM): I have nice skin. I like my tone and texture, I honestly can’t say there is anything I dislike about my skin.
(APR): That’s awesome! It seems like everyone has something they dislike about their skin. Have you been inspired by your dermatographia or skin?
(TM): I actually have been inspired. I would like to draw more attention to this, I know we don’t mind the way we are, but what about others? And we really don’t have a choice because there is nothing we really can do about it but adapt and live with it.
(APR): Yeah me too! I think it’s helpful if everyone knows about dermatographia, because there would be less questions (like, “What happened to you?”), and people would see it as a cool thing. Is there anything you’d like to know about dermatographia?
(TM): I would just like to know if it really goes away or not? I honestly don’t know if I’m doing something wrong so I can stop because there is no definite reason as to what or how I got to be this way.
(APR): As far as I know, it can go away on its own as we get older. I’ve heard many stories from people in their 40’s and 50’s who used to have dermatographia, then it just went away. It can definitely be lessened with diet and exercise, but varies for each individual. Personally, I’ve noticed the itch is much better when I don’t eat gluten. You might want to give it a try–it could work for you too!
Thanks Tina! It’s been great getting to know you!
Images courtesy of Tina Monice