Dermatographia is a condition also known as “skin writing”. About 4-5% of the population has this condition and it is one of the most common types of urticaria, in which the skin becomes red and inflamed when rubbed, scratched or even smacked. Symptoms may occur within a few minutes of the skin being rubbed or scratched and usually fade away within 30 minutes. Treatment options for dermatographia depend on the severity of the condition. Usually, swelling and itchy skin will fade away on their own; however, if symptoms are bothersome, a doctor might recommend allergy medications.



Signs and symptoms of dermatographia may include:

  • Inflammation
  • Skin redness
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Raised skin



The direct cause of dermatographia is unknown. Histamine is the main chemical released by mast cells when the skin is patted, but other chemical indicators may also be involved as well. Dermatographia can be triggered in most individuals by infections, emotional behavior, allergic response or medications such as penicillin.


Risk factors 

Factors associated with an increased risk of dermatographia include:

  • Age (more common in teenagers and young adults)
  • Skin conditions (dry skin or dermatitis)

The immune system that causes allergies also increases the risk of dermatographia.



Dermatographia generally does not cause any harm and leaves no permanent markings on the skin. It only often causes minor symptoms such as redness and itching.



A few recommendations for preventing dermatographia may include:

  • Refraining from scratching skin and using harsh soaps
  • Avoiding clothing made from itchy material such as wool that can irritate the skin
  • Keeping the skin moisturized by using lotions and creams
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Avoiding hot baths and showers