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Dermographism, scratching the skin leaves marks

  • 📗 Medical

Dermographism is a type of urticaria. Among urticaria, it is classified as a type due to physical causes. It occurs in about 5% of the population and usually has a chronic course. When the skin is scratched or pressed with more than a certain amount of pressure, it is localized to the area and becomes itchy, red, and swollen similar to hives. Thus, it appears as if a character is written on the skin. In some cases, it can occur anywhere on the skin of the body even with mild stimulation, and if it is scratched because it is itchy, hives may appear more severe.


Dermographism can be divided into simple dermographism, which shows only swelling and redness of the skin, and symptomatic dermographism, which accompanies itching at the rash site.


The cause of dermographism is not yet known with certainty. However, there are reports that it is worsened by systemic diseases such as thyroid disease, diabetes, and infection, pregnancy, menopause, drugs, and stress.

Diagnostic methods

Diagnosis of dermographism is relatively easy with clinical symptoms alone. Provocation tests can help with the diagnosis.

Test methods

Provoking tests for dermographism are simple to perform. If the examiner scratches the skin with moderate pressure using a fingernail or pen and observes it for several minutes, it is possible to observe the red swelling (redness and wheal) of the scratched area as if it were written on it.


There is no perfect cure, and treatment is usually aimed at controlling symptoms. As with other urticaria, antihistamines are the most important medications. Depending on the frequency and severity of dermographism, the dosage may be adjusted or several antihistamines may be combined.

Course and complications

Dermographism has no specific symptoms other than itching, and although it has a chronic course, the symptoms naturally decrease over time in many cases.

Prevention methods

Complete prevention is impossible. It is helpful to be careful not to put pressure on the skin, but even the smallest scratch can cause dermographism.

Useful tips for life

It is best to avoid situations where pressure is applied to the skin. It is especially important to note that scratching can make the hives reaction worse. It is also important to avoid triggers such as tight clothing or underwear and strenuous exercise.

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