ABC Medical Center > Dermatographia

What is Dermatographia?

21:54 - 4 May , 2021


Also known as skin writing, dermatographia is a kind of hives caused by the patient when scratching certain areas of the skin, causing linear welts that follow the pattern marked by the direction of the fingers and nails when pressing the skin.

These are temporary lesions that can appear immediately after the physical stimulus (it is the most common, affecting about 6% of the population) or they may appear 20 or 30 minutes after the stimulus, classified as delayed dermatographia.

Although all people that vigorously scratch their skin show some redness and inflammation in the area, patients with dermatographia have an exaggerated reaction, producing a series of symptoms of greater or lesser intensity depending on the case.

In this condition, the chemical released into the skin is histamine, an agent that appears in allergic reactions, although it has not been conclusively determined that it is due to allergic issues. Emotional factors have also been identified as possible triggers of dermatographia.

It is more frequent in adolescents and young people, although people of any age are susceptible to it, being able to remain active for years.

Several months of treatments with antihistamines are recommended, in addition to avoiding high temperatures, wearing tight clothing, rubbing too much when bathing, and drying too hard.

Signs and symptoms Dermatographia

  • Reddish linear patterns on the skin.
  • Irritation.
  • Swollen lines.
  • Rashes.
  • Intense itching

The symptoms usually disappear after 30-40 minutes of scratching, although in some cases it can last for hours or even days. See your doctor for immediate treatment when the symptoms continue or are particularly intense to avoid complications.

How to prevent it:

  • Avoid soaps with a high pH or with too many chemicals.
  • Use fresh clothes made of natural fibers that do not have a rough texture.
  • Shower with lukewarm water.
  • Avoid scratching.
  • Apply lotions on your skin to keep it hydrated.
  • Do not expose to sunlight.

Diagnosis and treatment Dermatographia

After analyzing your symptoms and medical history, your doctor will perform a physical examination that will include rubbing your skin with an object to ascertain the type of rashes or lines that appear.

Drug treatment is usually not required if symptoms are not severe, but if they last too long or become severe, long-term antihistamines will be needed, such as:

  • Diphenhydramine.
  • Fexofenadine.
  • Cetirizine.

At ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


  • Fernández MRM, Dopico TAP, Fernández CEJ, et al. Comportamiento de las afecciones cutáneas en el adulto mayor. Policlínico Docente. Rev Méd Electrón. 2018;40(6):1931-1946.
  • Leal SH, Carmona HE, Leal DS. Tecnología en dermatología. Dermatología Cosmética, Médica y Quirúrgica. 2016;14(2):142-151.
  • Chang P, Sánchez Y, Rodríguez PR. Dermatosis observadas en una Unidad de Terapia Intensiva. Dermatología Cosmética, Médica y Quirúrgica. 2014;12(3):165-171.
  • Magaña M, Valerio J, Mateo A, et al. Alteraciones cutáneas del neonato en dos grupos de población de México. Bol Med Hosp Infant Mex. 2005;62(2):117-123.

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