Dermatographism, known as skin writing, is a prevalent phenomenon in which the skin develops an elevated, red response to tactile contact or slight abrasion. This occurrence is relatively widespread, affecting approximately 5% of the population.

In this article, we will find the origins of dermatographism and discuss how it is medically diagnosed.

Dermatographism Causes


Stress can act as a catalyst for dermatographism, releasing histamine and other inflammatory agents in the skin.

Furthermore, psychological stress may reduce the body’s immunity, making it more vulnerable to skin discomfort and inflammation.

Hot or cold weather

Temperature changes can cause the blood vessels in the skin to constrict or dilate, which can trigger dermatographism. It can worsen dermatographism symptoms by causing irritation and inflammation in the skin.

Furthermore, extreme temperatures can cause sweating, which can further irritate the skin and cause hives to appear.

Identifying and avoiding personal triggers is essential to manage symptoms since triggers vary from person to person. Keeping a diary of signs, triggers and symptoms can help to identify these triggers.

Tight clothing

Too tight clothing can cause friction and irritation, which can trigger dermatographism.

As a result of tight clothing rubbing against the skin, blood vessels dilate, and the skin becomes inflamed, leading to hives and redness.

Additionally, tight clothing can trap heat and moisture against the skin, aggravating dermatographism symptoms.

Too tight clothing can cause hives, especially on the wrists, ankles, and neck. Cotton clothing that is loose-fitting and breathable can help to reduce irritation and inflammation.

Dermatographism Risk Factors

Here are factors that may increase a person’s risk of developing dermatographism:

  • The family history: Dermatographism may be more likely to develop in families with a history of it.
  • Symptoms of other allergic conditions: Hay fever and asthma are other allergic conditions that may increase the risk of dermatographism.
  • Stress and Anxiety: Anxiety and stress can trigger dermatographism, and anxious people may have a greater risk of developing it.
  • Disorders of the immune system: Those with autoimmune diseases, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, are more likely to develop dermatographism.
  • Changes in hormone levels: Pregnancy and menopause can cause hormonal changes that may lead to dermatographism.

Some people with these risk factors will develop dermatographism, but the condition’s cause remains unknown. An allergist or dermatologist can provide a proper diagnosis and management plan for this condition.

Dermatographism Symptoms

Dermatographism usually occurs within 30 minutes after skin irritation. The following symptoms occur after skin scratching or pressure:

  •  Itching: Symptoms of itching or burning in the area.
  •  Swelling: Swelling on the skin
  •  Raised: Skin flushing or redness

Symptoms vary from person to person with dermatographism; not everyone will experience the same symptoms.

In some cases, the symptoms are mild and go undetected; in others, they are severe and need treatment.

It is essential to seek a dermatologist or allergist’s counsel to receive a definitive diagnosis and devise a suitable course of action for the condition.

Tests and Diagnosis

Juniper Allergy doctors can diagnose this condition through consultation about medical history/symptoms and a skin test using a tongue depressor or other object.

There are a lot of patients who don’t find dermatographia to be enough of an inconvenience for them to seek treatment.

Over-the-counter antihistamines, however, can relieve or prevent particularly bothersome symptoms.

Dermatographism Facts

The following are some critical facts about dermatographism:

  • A condition called dermatographism results in raised and red skin after scratching.
  • The condition is also known as skin writing or scratch dermatitis.
  • There is no exact cause of dermatographism, but an abnormal histamine release following skin irritation may cause it.
  • It’s a type of urticaria (hives).
  • The condition is benign and self-limited, posing no long-term health risks.
  • Young adults are more likely to suffer from it than older adults.
  • A person can inherit the condition, but it is not contagious.
  • People experience triggers differently, including stress, temperature changes, tight clothing, certain skin care products, and cosmetics.
  • A rash or bump can occur, along with raised, red welts (hives), itching or burning sensations, swelling, flushing, and tingling.
  • Besides taking antihistamines and avoiding triggers, corticosteroids may also be necessary in some cases, especially if the allergy is severe or persistent.
  • You can identify triggers by recording symptoms in a diary.

Let Juniper Allergy help

If you suffer from Dermatographism our team is happy to answer any questions you may have and discuss your specific treatment needs. You can call (210) 888-1297 or email to discuss the next steps.

Author: Dr. Amanda Trott, MD
NPI number: 1568653756
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