• Patient Care & Health Information
  • Diseases & Conditions
  • Dermatographia (Dermatographism)

Scratched skin showing the raised lines or welts of someone with dermatographia.

  • Dermatographia

Dermatographia is a condition in which lightly scratching your skin causes raised, inflamed lines where you've scratched. Though not serious, it can be uncomfortable.

Dermatographia is a condition in which lightly scratching your skin causes raised, inflamed lines or welts. These marks tend to go away in less than 30 minutes. The condition is also known as dermatographism and skin writing.

The cause of dermatographia is unknown, but it may be related to an infection, emotional upset or a medicine you're taking.

Dermatographia is harmless. Most people who have this condition don't need treatment. If your symptoms bother you, talk with your health care provider, who might prescribe an allergy medicine.

Products & Services

  • A Book: Mayo Clinic Family Health Book, 5th Edition
  • Newsletter: Mayo Clinic Health Letter — Digital Edition

Symptoms of dermatographia may include:

  • Raised, inflamed lines where you scratched.
  • Welts from friction.

The symptoms may occur within a few minutes of the skin being rubbed or scratched. They tend to go away within 30 minutes. Rarely, the skin symptoms develop more slowly and lasts several hours to days. The condition itself can last for months or years.

When to see a doctor

See your health care provider if your symptoms bother you.

There is a problem with information submitted for this request. Review/update the information highlighted below and resubmit the form.

From Mayo Clinic to your inbox

Sign up for free and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips, current health topics, and expertise on managing health. Click here for an email preview.

Error Email field is required

Error Include a valid email address

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Thank you for subscribing!

You'll soon start receiving the latest Mayo Clinic health information you requested in your inbox.

Sorry something went wrong with your subscription

Please, try again in a couple of minutes

The exact cause of dermatographia isn't clear. It may be an allergic reaction, though no specific allergen has been found.

Simple things may cause symptoms of dermatographia. For example, rubbing from your clothes or bedsheets may irritate your skin. In some people, the symptoms are preceded by an infection, emotional stress, vibration, cold exposure or taking a medicine.

Risk factors

Dermatographia can occur at any age. It tends to be more common in teens and young adults. If you have other skin conditions, you may be at greater risk. One such condition is atopic dermatitis (eczema).

Try these tips to reduce discomfort and prevent the symptoms of dermatographia:

  • Treat skin gently. Use a mild soap or nonsoap cleanser and pat skin dry. Wear things made of cloth that doesn't itch. Use warm water when you take a bath or shower.
  • Don't scratch your skin. Try not to scratch. This is a good tip for any skin condition.
  • Keep your skin moisturized. Use creams, lotions or ointments daily. Creams and ointments are thicker and tend to work better than lotions do. Apply your skin product while your skin is still damp from washing. Use it again during the day as needed.
  • AskMayoExpert. Pruritus without rash. Mayo Clinic; 2021.
  • Bolognia JL, et al., eds. Pruritus and dysesthesia. In: Dermatology Essentials. 2nd ed. Elsevier; 2022. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 28, 2022.
  • Office of Patient Education. Care of Dry Skin. Mayo Clinic; 2017.
  • Dinulos JGH. Urticaria, angioedema, and pruritus. In: Habif's Clinical Dermnatology. 7th ed. Elsevier; 2021. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 28, 2022.
  • Dermographism. Dorland's Medical Dictionary Online. https://www.dorlandsonline.com. Accessed Sept. 28, 2022.
  • Dermatographism. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. https://www.aocd.org/page/Dermatographism. Accessed Sept. 28, 2022.
  • Nobles T, et al. Dermatographism. StatPearls. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK531496. Accessed Sept. 28, 2022.
  • Burks AW, et al. Urticaria and angioedema. In: Middleton's Allergy: Principles and Practice. 9th ed. Elsevier; 2020. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 29, 2022.
  • Link JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic. Nov. 1, 2022.
  • Symptoms & causes
  • Diagnosis & treatment

Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products. Advertising revenue supports our not-for-profit mission.

  • Opportunities

Mayo Clinic Press

Check out these best-sellers and special offers on books and newsletters from Mayo Clinic Press .

  • Mayo Clinic on Incontinence - Mayo Clinic Press Mayo Clinic on Incontinence
  • The Essential Diabetes Book - Mayo Clinic Press The Essential Diabetes Book
  • Mayo Clinic on Hearing and Balance - Mayo Clinic Press Mayo Clinic on Hearing and Balance
  • FREE Mayo Clinic Diet Assessment - Mayo Clinic Press FREE Mayo Clinic Diet Assessment
  • Mayo Clinic Health Letter - FREE book - Mayo Clinic Press Mayo Clinic Health Letter - FREE book

Your gift holds great power – donate today!

Make your tax-deductible gift and be a part of the cutting-edge research and care that's changing medicine.

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Digestive Health
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Diet & Nutrition
  • Supplements
  • Health Insurance
  • Public Health
  • Patient Rights
  • Caregivers & Loved Ones
  • End of Life Concerns
  • Health News
  • Thyroid Test Analyzer
  • Doctor Discussion Guides
  • Hemoglobin A1c Test Analyzer
  • Lipid Test Analyzer
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC) Analyzer
  • What to Buy
  • Editorial Process
  • Meet Our Medical Expert Board

Is Dermographism an Autoimmune Disease?

Frequently asked questions.

Dermographism (also called dermatographia , dermatographic urticaria , dermatographic hives , or writing on the skin) is a condition that produces red, itchy bumps or raised lines on the skin, and is considered a type of hives . The marks usually appear after the skin is irritated by scratching, rubbing, pressure, or another form of contact. Some people experience dermographism with autoimmune diseases .

This article will discuss dermographism, the connection to autoimmune disease, causes, treatments, and more.

How Dermographism Works

Up to 5% of people experience dermographism. It happens when the skin is irritated by contact, such as pressure, scratching, or rubbing. Red, itchy bumps appear within five to seven minutes of contact and typically last for 15 to 30 minutes. In some cases, they can last up to a couple of hours.

There may be a connection between dermographism and autoimmune response, but this relationship is not fully understood.

Autoimmune Disease Definition

Autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system attacks healthy cells instead of pathogens that cause disease.

There are various triggers for hives, such as allergic reactions to foods or viral infections. Physical irritation or contact with the skin is the trigger for dermographism. When the irritation occurs, a chemical in the body called histamine is released and attacks the area as if it were trying to protect the body from harm, leading to hives.

Dermographism Causes

It is not always clear why some people experience hives after contact with an irritant, but an allergy or underlying disease could be the cause. Many people with autoimmune disease experience hives, and it is believed that there is a link between autoimmune disease and dermographism. Other causes of this condition include:

  • Tight clothing

Additional factors that may lead to dermographism or that make hives more likely to appear after irritation include:

  • Extreme temperatures (heat or cold)
  • Physical activity or exercise
  • Stress (physical or emotional)

The most common symptom of dermographism is red, itchy bumps on the skin . Since the reaction occurs in response to physical contact, the marks usually appear in lines or patterns where the skin is scratched. The word "dermatographia" translates to "writing on the skin" and is how the condition got its name.

Dermographism symptoms include:

  • Swelling or inflammation
  • Raised red lines
  • Hive-like welts

Dermographism typically goes away on its own and doesn't require treatment. However, there are treatments to help cope with the discomfort of symptoms. Medications called antihistamines can be used to relieve the itch by blocking the histamine response that leads to hives. Anti-itch creams can be applied directly to the skin and may help relieve symptoms, but are generally not as effective as oral antihistamines.

A healthcare professional, such as a primary care provider, an allergist, or a dermatologist , can recommend specific treatment options.

First-line therapy, avoiding triggers, and second-generation oral antihistamines are effective treatment options for dermographism. People experiencing dermographism can also try preventive strategies to avoid symptoms.

Prevention for Dermographism

  • Avoid rubbing, scratching, or applying too much pressure to the skin
  • Maintain a comfortable temperature, not becoming overheated or too cold
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing
  • Manage stress

Dermographism is a form of hives that occurs when the skin is scratched, rubbed, or irritated, leading to itchy, red bumps that last for about 30 minutes. Since dermographism is a reaction to direct contact it can show up in patterns like scratch lines.

The connection between dermographism and autoimmune disease is not fully understood. For some patients, the main presenting symptom of an undiagnosed new autoimmune condition is dermographism or hives. When the autoimmune condition is treated, the dermographism and hives often also go into remission.

This condition does not always need to be treated because symptoms go away quickly, but treatment and prevention options may help to provide relief and decrease the chances of the hives returning.

A Word From Verywell

Living with dermographism can be challenging, especially when the condition becomes frequent and/or comes and goes for a long time. The symptoms can be uncomfortable. If you or someone you know is experiencing dermographism, talk to your provider about prevention and treatment options.

It is not entirely clear what causes dermographism flare-ups. Some things that may make it more likely include physical or emotional stress, exercise, and extreme temperatures.

The relationship between dermographism and the immune system is not fully understood. It is believed that there is a link between autoimmune disease and dermographism, and many people experience both at the same time. Autoimmune disease is when the immune system is activated for an unknown reason and attacks healthy cells.

While dermographism is not considered one of the mast cell disorders, such as mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), there is a connection between these conditions. Mast cells are a type of white blood cell that are located under the skin and in smaller quantities in other areas of the body. They release histamine, a chemical in the body, which leads to hives or the itchy bumps experienced with dermographism.

American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Dermatographism .

Jenerowicz D, Błaszczyk A, Raciborski F, Sadowska-Przytocka A, Adamski Z, Czarnecka-Operacz M. Pathogenetic aspects of chronic urticaria. Retrospective and prospective analysis of the patients of the department of dermatology, poznan university of medical sciences .  Adv Dermatol Allergol . 2021;38(1). doi:10.5114/ada.2021.107270

Binmadi N, Almazrooa S. Dermographism in the oral cavity.   Am J Case Rep . 2016;17:421-424. doi:10.12659/AJCR.898247

National Institutes of Health. Autoimmune diseases .

American Academy of Dermatology Association. Hives: Causes .

National Health Services. Urticaria (hives) .

American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Urticaria .

Sparrow. Dermatographia .

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. An update on treatment options in symptomatic dermographism .

American Academy of Dermatology Association. 10 ways to get relief from chronic hives .

Qureshi AA, Friedman AJ. A Review of the Dermatologic Symptoms of Idiopathic Mast Cell Activation Syndrome.   J Drugs Dermatol . 2019;18(2):162-168.

By Ashley Olivine, Ph.D., MPH Dr. Olivine is a Texas-based psychologist with over a decade of experience serving clients in the clinical setting and private practice.

If You Have This Condition, You Can Write on Your Skin—No Pen Required

writing on the skin

The hives appeared the day after my two-week course of antibiotics ended. I lightly scratched an itch on my arm and, moments later, red welts surfaced along the path left by my fingernails.

Those welts faded within half an hour, but more quickly replaced them, taking the shape of whatever object provoked them. Unnerved, I did what any logical person would do: Search the internet. Apparently I had a condition called dermatographia, or “skin writing.”

“It’s probably more common than people think,” says Andrea Kalus, M.D., a dermatologist who practices at UW Medical Center Roosevelt. Doctors classify dermatographia as a type of urticaria , or hives, and suspect it is a histamine reaction.

“It’s like an alarm going off in the skin, alerting the immune system that there might be a breach in the wall. It allows extra blood flow and immune chemicals to come into the area,” Kalus says.

Doctors don’t completely understand dermatographia. It can be short-lived or chronic, severely itchy or mildly so. One recent study showed it can be a kind of “delayed hypersensitivity” reaction to penicillin, typically beginning six hours to several days after exposure. The authors note that amoxicillin can also cause a reaction after treatment ends—exactly what happened to me.

A Chronic Condition—and an Artist's Inspiration

For Ariana Page Russell , who has chronic dermatographia, the exact cause has been harder to pinpoint. Growing up, her skin was sensitive and flushed easily, and once she broke out in a rash after consuming one of her cousin’s bubblegum-flavored penicillin pills. She first noticed welts as a teenager but didn’t think much of them.

Russell was diagnosed in 2004 when she was a University of Washington graduate student in photography. While working on a project involving kelp, she scratched her knee and noticed kelp-shaped patterns on her skin. She photographed them.

“When I had peers and professors in for a visit, they didn’t care about the kelp photographs—they gravitated to the skin stuff,” Russell says. “I didn’t have any answers for them. They were like, ‘There’s something else going on here—this isn’t normal!’” She went to the doctor soon after.

Having a name for her welts was a relief, she says, as was incorporating them into her artwork in order to better understand them—and even find beauty in them.

“It definitely made me feel more confident about my skin,” she says.

Through her photography, she hopes to inspire others with dermatographia or similar conditions to embrace their skin the way it is and not feel ashamed of or embarrassed by it. She also runs a blog  to help educate people.

“I tell people to turn it around, make other people see it in a positive way: ‘I can draw a picture on my skin: What can you do?’ Then you’re the one who has the power over it and how people see it,” she says.

No Cure and Little Research

Russell's dermatographia is less severe now, which she credits to a healthier diet and being selective about the products she uses in her home and on her skin.

Studies about dermatographia would be helpful for those who live with it, but funding is hard to come by, Kalus says. Research dollars typically go toward projects that have a greater perceived health impact.

Until more research can be conducted, treatment typically focuses on symptom management.

“Avoidance of triggers is important. Antihistamines can help with the itching, though non-drowsy antihistamines tend not to work as well. Topical lotions that cool the skin can be helpful,” Kalus says.

After a few weeks of uncomfortable, antihistamine-dulled existence, my dermatographia faded. I was lucky—though also sad to see it leave, in a way. I’d grown almost fond of the skin writing. For an English major enamored by the written word, there was something poetic about being able to etch secret, disappearing messages on my body.

But I definitely don’t miss the itching.

Recommended for you

Man taking his blood pressure at home

Medication is effective, but positive lifestyle changes can also make a difference for your numbers. 

An illustration of a person finding their way through a brain-shaped maze.

  • Load more stories

Thanks for visiting! GoodRx is not available outside of the United States. If you are trying to access this site from the United States and believe you have received this message in error, please reach out to [email protected] and let us know.

U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

The .gov means it's official. Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.

The site is secure. The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

  • Publications
  • Account settings
  • Browse Titles

NCBI Bookshelf. A service of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-.

Cover of StatPearls

StatPearls [Internet].

Dermatographism.

Timothy Nobles ; Mikel E. Muse ; George J. Schmieder .

Affiliations

Last Update: February 20, 2023 .

  • Continuing Education Activity

Dermatographism, also known as dermographism urticaria, or urticaria factitia, is an urticarial eruption upon pressure or trauma to the skin. The literal meaning is "to write on the skin." Downward pressure on the skin produces a linear wheal in the shape of the applied external force. Dermatographism is the most common type of inducible/physical urticaria, occurring in approximately 2% to 5% of the population. A small subset of those with dermatographism becomes symptomatic with pruritus along with the erythematous wheals. This activity reviews the evaluation and management of dermatographism and the role of interprofessional team members in collaborating to provide well-coordinated care and enhance patient outcomes.

  • Review the differential diagnosis for dermatographism.
  • Describe the presentation of dermatographism.
  • Summarize the treatment options for dermatographism.
  • Outline the evaluation and management of dermatographism and interprofessional team members' role in collaborating to provide well-coordinated care and enhance patient outcomes.
  • Introduction

Dermatographism, also known as Dermographism urticaria, or urticaria factitia, is an urticarial eruption upon pressure or trauma to the skin. Urticarial skin reactions present as erythematous wheals in the dermis and can have innumerable causes. Dermatographism is the most common type of inducible/physical urticaria, occurring in approximately 2% to 5% of the population. Downward pressure on the skin produces linear erythematous wheals in the dermis in the shape of the external force applied, earning the name dermatographism, which literally means "writing on the skin." A small subset of people with dermatographism becomes symptomatic with pruritus, stinging, prickling sensations that can be bothersome for the patient. [1]

The exact cause of dermatographism is unknown. However, the release of histamine from mast cells is thought to play a role. [2]  Dermatographism has been seen in people with diabetes, hyperthyroid, hypothyroid, menopause, pregnancy, or medication-related.

  • Epidemiology

Dermatographism is the most common type of urticaria, frequently presenting in young adults with the peak incidence in the second and third decades. There has not been shown a relationship between race and dermatographism. One study of pediatric patients showed a female predominance. [3]  One report cited a case of familial dermatographism. [4]

Hypereosinophilic syndrome is associated with atopic children and increases dermatographism; these are associated with atopic children and an increased number of eosinophils in the blood. One-third of patients that experience traumatic life events, along with psychological co-morbidities, experience dermatographism. [5] Furthermore, stressful events like pregnancy (commonly in the second trimester) and the onset of menopause have seen a higher incidence of the condition. Behcet disease, a condition marked by oral and genital ulcers, is another disease where dermatographism is a common integumentary finding.

Symptomatic dermatographism is thought to be generally idiopathic, but various explanations have been considered. The higher consensus revolves around Helicobacter pylori , antibiotics such as penicillin, bites, or scabies as the more common presentations to suggest this correlation. Lastly, congenital symptomatic dermatographism is the presenting sign in systemic mastocytosis. [6]

  • Pathophysiology

No concluding mechanism explains why dermatographism occurs. Mechanical trauma activates vasoactive mediators released from mast cells secondary to antigen interaction to the bound IgE. This is thought to cause an exaggerated biological response known as the "triple response of Lewis." Initially, the capillaries become dilated, producing a superficial erythematous phase. Next, an axon-reflex flare and communication to sensory nerve fibers cause an expansion of erythema, secondary to arteriolar dilation. Lastly, the linear wheal is formed through fluid transudation. This entire response takes, on average, up to 5 minutes after an external stimulus stroking of the skin. The wheal can persist anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, unlike the normal triple response of Lewis that subsides in under 10 minutes. Mediators such as histamine, leukotrienes, bradykinin, heparin, kallikrein, and peptides such as substance P are all considered to play a role in this process.

  • Histopathology

The histopathology of dermatographism demonstrates dermal edema with few perivascular mononuclear cells similar to acute urticaria histology.

  • History and Physical

Dermatographism lesions appear following mechanical trauma to the skin, most consistently stroking of the skin. A wheal forms and develops in approximately 5 to 10 minutes. The wheal will persist for about 15 to 30 minutes. The deeper the edema into the dermis, the larger the wheal will appear. In symptomatic dermatographism, pruritus accompanies the wheal. The pruritus worsens at night (thought to be related to the pressure of the bedding and sheets contacting the skin) and friction to the area from external stimuli, heat, stress, emotion, and exercise.

Dermatographism most commonly involves the trunk and extremities, and other body surfaces. The least common areas reported are the scalp and genital area; however, symptomatic dermatographism has been correlated in the literature with dyspareunia and vulvodynia. [7]

There are several rare subtypes of dermatographism:

  • Red dermatographism (small punctate wheals, predominantly on the trunk)
  • Follicular dermatographism (isolated urticarial papules)
  • Cholinergic dermatographism (similar to cholinergic urticaria – large erythematous line marked by punctate wheals)
  • Delayed dermatographism (tender urticarial lesion reappears 3 to 8 hours after the initial injury that persist up to 48 hours)
  • Cold-precipitated
  • Exercise-induced
  • Treatment / Management

Prevention and avoidance of precipitating factors such as physical stimuli and decreasing stressors are important factors in controlling dermatographism. Most patients are asymptomatic, and therapy should be restricted to symptomatic patients. Choice therapy includes treatment with H1 antihistamines such as cetirizine or loratadine. H2 antihistamines can be combined for more complete therapy if H1 blockers are insufficient to control the pruritus. Hydroxyzine, a sedating antihistamine, is a valid option and can be taken before sleep.

Omalizumab is under consideration in research trials focusing on treating dermatographism with 72% efficacy on 150 mg and 58% efficacy on 300 mg. Notably, patients' Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI) scale improved by at least 4 points, showing a statistically significant clinical difference. [8]

Light therapy has shown some efficacy in treating dermatographism, yet most patients relapse within 2 to 3 months of completing therapy.

Adjunctive treatment with over-the-counter vitamin C 1000 mg daily is thought to help degrade histamine and increase removal, diminishing the triple response of Lewis. [9]

  • Differential Diagnosis

If dermatographism is the leading differential, false dermatographism must be ruled out, a condition that presents clinically similar to dermatographism but has a different underlying mechanism. False dermographism has several different forms, including white, black, and yellow. White dermatographism is secondary to allergic contact dermatitis and is prevalent in atopic individuals. Black dermatographism occurs after contact with metallic objects. Yellow dermatographism is due to bile deposits in the skin.  

Another condition that presents similarly to symptomatic dermatographism is latex allergy. This commonly is seen on the hands and genital region and will often be related to a history of physically contacting latex in gloves, rubber bands, balloons, toys, or contraceptive use.  [10]  Mastocytosis, a disorder caused by an increase in the number of mast cells, can also present with pruritic red-brown pigmented lesions. Mastocytosis can be cutaneous or systemic, depending on what area is infiltrated with mast cells. One sign of mastocytosis is called the "Darier sign," which is swelling, pruritus, and erythema in response to pressure applied to the skin. Systemic mastocytosis is more common in adults, and symptoms are based primarily on the organ affected, such as the liver, spleen, bone marrow, or small intestine. Urticaria pigmentosa is the most common cutaneous mastocytosis in children, is rare and benign. [11]

Dermatographism is a benign condition. In a minority of cases, pruritus can accompany the condition. Compared to the other chronic urticarias, symptomatic dermatographism displays the most expedited clearance of the condition after 5 years (36%) and 10 years (51%). [12]

  • Complications

Dermatographism has no direct complications. However, if the patient uses sedating antihistamines for treatment, they may need to exercise caution before engaging in certain activities such as driving or operating machinery.

  • Deterrence and Patient Education

Dermatographism can be unsettling in its laborious course without resolve. However, the condition is benign, and patients must be aware of this. The treatment involved, antihistamines, can result in drowsiness; therefore, it is best to advise the patient not to take the medication before operating a vehicle.

  • Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

Dermatographism is a benign yet startling lesion to most patients and their parents. Thus, it is imperative to educate the patient and their parents properly on the risk factors associated with the onset of dermatographism to avoid such stressors. To properly educate, it is ideal to target the audience in a team-based approach.

  • Evaluation by the primary care physician
  • Consult the dermatologist when the diagnosis is in question
  • Encourage reduction of external stimuli, effective management, and treatment options.
  • Review Questions
  • Access free multiple choice questions on this topic.
  • Comment on this article.

Illustration of forearm displaying dermatographism on skin. Contributed by Chelsea Rowe

Disclosure: Timothy Nobles declares no relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies.

Disclosure: Mikel Muse declares no relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies.

Disclosure: George Schmieder declares no relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies.

This book is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ ), which permits others to distribute the work, provided that the article is not altered or used commercially. You are not required to obtain permission to distribute this article, provided that you credit the author and journal.

  • Cite this Page Nobles T, Muse ME, Schmieder GJ. Dermatographism. [Updated 2023 Feb 20]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan-.

In this Page

Bulk download.

  • Bulk download StatPearls data from FTP

Related information

  • PMC PubMed Central citations
  • PubMed Links to PubMed

Similar articles in PubMed

  • Review [Round Table: urticaria with a physical cause]. [Allergol Immunopathol (Madr). ...] Review [Round Table: urticaria with a physical cause]. Martorell A, Sanz J. Allergol Immunopathol (Madr). 1999 Mar-Apr; 27(2):85-96.
  • Dermatographism in popular culture. [Clin Dermatol. 2022] Dermatographism in popular culture. Russell AP, Gailey JH, Abdulkarim B, Levell NJ, Parish LC, Hoenig LJ. Clin Dermatol. 2022 Nov-Dec; 40(6):768-772. Epub 2022 Aug 7.
  • Dermal and bronchial hyperreactivity in urticarial dermographism and urticaria factitia. [Allergy. 1996] Dermal and bronchial hyperreactivity in urticarial dermographism and urticaria factitia. Henz BM, Jeep S, Ziegert FS, Niemann J, Kunkel G. Allergy. 1996 Mar; 51(3):171-5.
  • The effect of psoralen photochemotherapy (PUVA) on symptomatic dermographism. [Clin Exp Dermatol. 1989] The effect of psoralen photochemotherapy (PUVA) on symptomatic dermographism. Logan RA, O'Brien TJ, Greaves MW. Clin Exp Dermatol. 1989 Jan; 14(1):25-8.
  • Review Physical urticarias and cholinergic urticaria. [Immunol Allergy Clin North Am....] Review Physical urticarias and cholinergic urticaria. Abajian M, Schoepke N, Altrichter S, Zuberbier T, Maurer M. Immunol Allergy Clin North Am. 2014 Feb; 34(1):73-88. Epub 2013 Oct 28.

Recent Activity

  • Dermatographism - StatPearls Dermatographism - StatPearls

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

Connect with NLM

National Library of Medicine 8600 Rockville Pike Bethesda, MD 20894

Web Policies FOIA HHS Vulnerability Disclosure

Help Accessibility Careers

statistics

Dr. Neha Reshamwala

  • Environmental allergies
  • Sinusitis (sinus infection)
  • Allergic Rhinitis (hayfever)
  • Pet allergies
  • Non-allergic (Vasomotor) Rhinitis
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Hives (Urticaria)
  • Dermatographism
  • Eczema (Atpioc Dermatitis)
  • Latex allergy
  • Angioedema (swelling)
  • Insect allergies
  • Anaphylaxis and allergic reactions
  • Aspirin sensitivity
  • Drug allergy
  • Asthmatic conditions
  • Chronic cough
  • General food allergy
  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis
  • Immune Deficiency
  • Mastocytosis
  • Cedar Allergy
  • Ragweed Allergies
  • Oak Allergy
  • Grass Allergy

writing on the skin

  • Skin testing
  • Pet allergy testing
  • Blood testing
  • Patch Testing
  • Drug allergy testing
  • Insect sting testing
  • Oral food challenge
  • Food allergy testing
  • Allergy shots
  • Traditional immunotherapy
  • Cluster immunotherapy
  • Allergy drops (sublingual)
  • Book an appointment
  • Patient Portal
  • Allergies or COVID-19?
  • View all posts

Dermatographism is a skin condition that causes redness, inflammation, welts, and itching when the skin is exposed to pressure, rubbing, or scratching. This condition is also called skin writing, dermographia, or dermatographic urticaria.

Symptoms of Dermatographism

Dermatographism is a common, benign skin condition that is not transmissible or life-threatening. Signs of dermatographism can develop within minutes of skin irritation and typically resolve within half an hour. The symptoms of dermatographism include:

  • Raised, red marks on the skin
  • Hive-like welts

The symptoms of dermatographism typically appear and resolve relatively quickly. However, patients can live with dermatographism for months to years.

Causes of Dermatographism

Dermatographism symptoms arise from abnormal levels of histamine release from mast cells (that belong to the immune system) within the skin. Although the specific causes of dermatographism are unknown, some common triggers include:

  • Allergic reactions: Dermatographism can be triggered by exposure to allergens, such as dust mites, pollen, pet dander, or certain foods.
  • Stress: Emotional stress can trigger the release of histamine in the body, which can cause an allergic reaction and lead to dermatographism.
  • Medications: Certain medications, such as antibiotics, painkillers, or antidepressants, can cause dermatographism as a side effect.
  • Infections: Skin infections, such as bacterial or fungal infections, can trigger dermatographism.
  • Autoimmune disorders: Some autoimmune disorders, such as lupus or thyroid disease, can cause dermatographism as a symptom.
  • Hormonal changes: Dermatographism may be more common in women and may be triggered by hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy or menstruation.

A person with dermatographism may also have an external allergy, though this is uncommon.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Dermatographism

At Frontier Allergy Asthma and Immunology, your physician can diagnose dermatographism by asking questions about your medical history and symptoms. Your physician may also perform a skin test with a tongue depressor to scratch or press on the skin over your arm or back. The area of the test will be observed closely for the next few minutes for welts, redness, itching, or raised marks. Dermatographism itself typically does not leave any lasting marks or scars, but excessive scratching due to possible itching may cause the skin to break. Your physician will likely recommend the daily use of non-allergic moisturizers or a daily antihistamine to curb the symptoms of dermatographism.

Who does dermatographia affect?

  • Dermatographia can affect people of any age, gender, or race. However, it is more commonly seen in younger people, particularly those under the age of 30. Dermatographia can occur in individuals with a history of allergies, eczema, or other skin conditions. It can also occur in otherwise healthy individuals with no known underlying medical conditions. Women are more likely than men to develop dermatographism, and it may be more common in those who have a family history of the condition.

How common is dermatographia?

  • It is estimated that up to 5% of the population may have dermatographism at some point in their lives.

How does dermatographia affect my body?

  • Dermatographia welts do not hurt, but they can be itchy and uncomfortable. Although most dermatographia will fade in 30 minutes to a few hours, you may feel flustered or uneasy until the marks disappear.

Is dermatographia caused by stress?

  • Stress may exacerbate dermatographia. Avoiding stress wherever possible helps to prevent dermatographia.

Is dermatographia contagious?

  • No, dermatographia isn’t contagious. You can’t spread dermatographia to another person through direct contact or by sharing personal items (unless the item has been contaminated from your skin.)

How is dermatographia diagnosed?

  • Your healthcare provider can diagnose dermatographia by writing on your skin. They’ll use a tongue depressor to write or press on the skin of your arm or back. Dermatographia will carry the physical marks left behind in the same direction and orientation as the writing. It may look as if someone wrote a word on your arm with a pen!

writing on the skin

Written by: Dr. Neha Reshamwala NPI number: 1780874578 Page last reviewed: 03/20/21

Written by: dr. neha reshamwala npi number: 1780874578 page last reviewed: 20/03/21, all conditions, nasal, sinus and eyes, asthma and lungs, skin conditions, food allergies, other conditions, get help treating dermatographism.

Call (512) 535-2655 Email [email protected] or click the button below Book an appointment

Get news and updates from Dr. Reshamwala

writing on the skin

Existing patients

Visit our clinic.

  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms & Conditions

Watch CBS News

Stress can be "the triggering factor" for skin problems. Dermatologists share their advice.

By Sara Moniuszko

Edited By Paula Cohen

May 21, 2024 / 8:27 AM EDT / CBS News

There are many ways mental health can impac t  our physical health — but did you know stress can even affect how our skin looks and feels? It's true, dermatologists say.

Dermatologist  Dr. Afton Cobb  says she sees patients all the time who notice "the triggering factor that made their skin condition worse was stress in their lives."

"It's amazing how much stress affects obviously our entire body but especially our skin," she says. 

How does it happen? It has to do with hormones. 

"When you are stressed, your body releases stress hormones that have a tremendous impact on your entire body, including your skin," says dermatologist  Dr. Samer Jaber  of Washington Square Dermatology in New York.

One of the major hormones released is cortisol, he says, which increases oil gland production and can result in clogged pores and worsening acne.

Stress can also affect your skin barrier.

"When the skin barrier is affected, it can result in dry skin and flares of eczema or psoriasis," he explains.

Studies have shown atopic dermatitis — another name for eczema — can get worse with stress, Cobb adds. It's a chronic condition with  symptoms including itchy, dry, red patches on the skin.

Stress hormones can also impact how our skin ages by breaking down collagen and elastin in the skin, leading to decreased skin elasticity.

"This can cause more fine lines and wrinkles and accelerate skin aging," Jaber says. 

Does stress cause hair loss?

It's not just your skin — chronic or severe stress can impact your hair too. 

"Stress can trigger autoimmune patches of hair loss called alopecia areata and cause diffuse hair shedding called telogen effluvium," Jaber says. "There was also a study in mice that showed chronic stress may accelerate the greying of hair ."

Scalp itch can also be a manifestation of stress, anxiety or depression, Cobb adds.

How to prevent stress-related skin issues

Jaber says the best way to treat your skin to prevent the damage of stress is to first have a simple, regular skin care routine . 

"Be consistent," he suggests. "Wash your face with a gentle cleanser, use a sunscreen regularly and make sure to keep your skin moisturized."

The next step is managing the stress itself in order improve skin conditions.

"You can't always remove this stress in your life, but you can certainly influence how you respond to it," Cobb says. "With my patients, we will sometimes talk about having them reach out to a therapist, trying to make sure they have a good support group, trying to remove the stressful etiology, if possible."

This can help in preventing a cycle of stress-induced skin issues like acne flares, for example, which for stressed or anxious people may lead to skin picking, further worsening the situation. 

"A lot of people experience that, it's normal," she says.

Lifestyle changes can also help reduce stress and improve overall health, including skin health. 

"Adequate sleep, regular exercise and good nutrition, meditation, and spending time with friends or loved ones can also help stress," Jaber adds. "Don't hesitate to seek professional treatment by a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist, if needed."

Sara Moniuszko is a health and lifestyle reporter at CBSNews.com. Previously, she wrote for USA Today, where she was selected to help launch the newspaper's wellness vertical. She now covers breaking and trending news for CBS News' HealthWatch.

More from CBS News

Trump says he believes Nikki Haley is going to be "on our team in some form"

What is a debt management program?

Bird flu detected in beef tissue for first time, USDA says

Why you should consolidate your debt for June

23 episodes

What if the ultimate beauty came with a deadly price? Katherine Williams, a glamorous supermodel, is used to the spotlight, but not like this. Hunted by a deranged killer, she finds herself at the center of a gruesome mystery where her friends' lives—and her own—hang in the balance. As the bodies pile up, Katherine becomes the prime suspect, and only her former lover, Andy Peterson, and the tough-as-nails Detective Helen Louisiani can clear her name. 'The Skin' is a chilling thriller that weaves together high stakes, advanced technology, and the darkest impulses of humanity. Prepare yourself for a fast-paced journey full of murder, mystery, and shocking revelations. Who will survive when the lines between beauty, obsession, and madness blur?

The Skin - Audiobook Podcast Christian Heinke

  • MAY 20, 2024

The Skin - Chapter 1 - Back

Prologue - Hospital. Pain. A doctor talking to a patient. This is how we meet Katherine Williams and her past as a supermodel. It was less beautiful than people generally believe. But her current situation doesn't seem very pleasant either. Chapter 1 • Andy Peterson, haunted by his missing wife Fran, is skipping work. His secretary, Jamie, finds him and urges him to see a patient, Katherine Williams, triggering old memories. Meanwhile, Supermodel Mia Wong is in trouble …

The Skin - Introduction

Introducing Heinke Digital Audiobook Podcasts. Hello there. My name is Christian Heinke. Almost two decades ago, I got off to a respectable start with the first German audiobook podcast, my thriller Dee Haut, (The Skin). After my 10 minutes of fame in the spotlight with book contracts, interviews, reading tours, and podcasts, I went on with my life. I found a job, met my wife, got married, started a family and introduced some people to the magic of cinema with various film programs. But all these years, writing was always with me. Thanks to the latest advances in artificial intelligence, I am now able to have my texts edited and translated well enough to bring them to life using a variety of artificial voices. Every month you can now listen to a new audio book chapter from the Heinkeverse.

  • FEB 17, 2020

Die Haut - Kapitel 21

Die Geschichte erreicht ihren dramatischen Höhepunkt: Katherine befindet sich in der Gewalt des grausamen Killers. Helen ist gefangen und hilflos. Es liegt nun an Andy, ob die beiden Frauen überleben ...

Die Haut - Kapitel 20

Andy Peterson erfährt mehr über Parker Daleys Vergangenheit. Helen Louisianis Leben liegt in den Händen von Ashera Arnold und Katherine Williams macht auf ihrem Anwesen eine schicksalhafte Bekanntschaft …

Die Haut - Kapitel 19

Detective Helen Louisiani fährt nach Virginia, um mehr über Parker Daley in Erfahrung zu bringen. Andy Peterson ist aus dem selben Grund in Baltimore. Helen stößt auf Widerstand in der Erscheinung einer geheimnisvollen Fremden. Andy erfährt von Professor Talbot die grausame Wahrheit über Parker Daley. In auf Katherines Anwesen in Maryland kümmert sich Jamie um Katherine - dann kümmert sich jemand um Jamie ...

Die Haut - Kapitel 18

Detective Helen Louisiani erhält von Andy Petersons Mentor neue Informationen, die die Identität des Catwalk-Killers betreffen. Währenddessen kommt der Catwalk-Killer seinem letzten Opfer - Katherine Williams - immer näher ...

  • © @ Copyright 2005 by Christian Heinke

Top Podcasts In Arts

writing on the skin

A Veep Who Wants Your Skin Ripped Off

Hello it’s the weekend. This is The Weekender ☕️

It appears that in his quest to find a running mate who might pull in a few Republican voters who aren’t thrilled about voting for him again in 2024, Donald Trump has moved on from the dog killer who lies about meeting with North Korean regime leader Kim Jong Un.

He’s reportedly now considering, among a handful of other options, the senator who thinks those protesting Israel’s actions in Gaza should have their “skin ripped off.”

That’s not the most notably unhinged remark or action from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) in recent years, it’s just the last thing I wrote about him .

According to new reporting from the New York Times , Cotton is on Trump’s shortlist of potential vice presidential candidates. Others include Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), J.D. Vance (R-OH), Tim Scott (R-SC) and his former HUD director Ben Carson. Trump is reportedly interested in Cotton as he seeks out a Veep who “would carry relatively little risk of creating unwanted distractions.”

So the guy who sent President Biden a letter in 2021 warning that Beijing was planning on using the 2022 Winter Olympics as an opportunity to gather and harvest DNA from American athletes to breed “biologically-enhanced soldiers” seems like a good fit.

Here’s what else TPM has on tap this weekend:

  • Josh Kovensky prepares us for what is to come during the Trump trial next week. 
  • Emine Yücel explains the hypocrisy behind Trump’s fumble on contraceptive restrictions this week.
  • Khaya Himmelman unpacks a new report on election deniers’ invasion of Congress.
  • Emine Yücel questions how clever it actually is to use AI to write legislation that would ultimately regulate the technology.

Let’s dig in.

— Nicole Lafond

What’s To Come

What will possibly be the only criminal trial of Donald Trump will draw to a close this week, as the jury is set to get the case. Here’s what to expect.

Judge Merchan said that closing arguments — also known as summations — will take place on Tuesday. Court will continue on Tuesday for as long as it takes to finish summations that day, he said. At the same time, we don’t expect closing arguments to last an inordinately long amount of time.

From there, Judge Merchan will read the charge to the jury — these are the instructions for how the jury must apply the law, including definitions of key terms to help them do so. Merchan said that this will take around one hour, and will likely take place on Wednesday morning.

Once the case goes to the jury, all bets are off. We could have a verdict in hours; it could be days or weeks of waiting before a hung jury result. There may be notes from the jury to the judge — if so, we’ll keep you updated on what’s being asked. We will have some notification of a verdict in advance, and I will try to be on the scene once one is rendered and announced.

— Josh Kovensky

Election Deniers Invade Congress

About one third of the sitting members of Congress can be considered election deniers, according to recent reporting by the nonpartisan States United Action .  

In other words, 170 members of Congress, representing 36 different states, have in some ways supported Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. These efforts include pushing baseless conspiracy theories about the safety and integrity of the election, attempting to stop the certification of election results, or by supporting or pursuing meritless legal challenges to attempt to overturn the election results. 

As States United Action notes, there are 151 election deniers who hold office in the House of Representatives with 67 on the ballot in 2024, and 19 in the Senate, with 3 on the ballot this year.

In states like Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma, close to 90 percent or more of congressional members are election deniers, and in states like Missouri, 80 percent of congressional members are election deniers. In Montana 75 percent are election deniers. 

These are particularly worrying statistics as we get closer and closer to the 2024 presidential election. Election experts previously told TPM that one of the biggest threats to the upcoming election is the fact that election deniers are, in many cases, still running the show. 

“If representatives still remain committed to anti-democratic forces, they still have the power to create a fair amount of disruption,” Justin Levitt, a professor of law at Loyola Law School, previously told TPM . 

Similarly, Lizzie Ulmer senior vice president of strategy and communications for States United Democracy Center, told the AP, that the public “should have a real healthy dose of concern about the real risk of having people in power who’ve shown they’re not willing to respect the will of the people.”

— Khaya Himmelman

Trump And Republicans Are Not Pro-Pill, No Matter What They Say

This week Trump went on TV and said he was “looking at” restrictions on contraceptives, adding that he thinks it’s “a smart decision.” But that same day, it seems he realized that proclamation was not a smart decision.

Hours after the interview, he reversed his statement in an all-caps Truth Social post. “I HAVE NEVER, AND WILL NEVER ADVOCATE IMPOSING RESTRICTIONS ON BIRTH CONTROL, or other contraceptives,” Trump posted. His campaign also tried to clarify the former president’s words, saying the 2024 candidate thought he was discussing abortion medication. 

But regardless of how swiftly Trump and his team backtracked on the remarks, the idea of restricting or even banning contraceptives is not a new platform for Republicans. You can see a list of some Republicans who have shown public support for that idea in a list I made this week . 

And even though Trump said he will never support restricting contraception, it’s hard to take that at face value when he did just that while he was in office. During his first round of staffing in the White House, Trump hired people who opposed legal contraception, a new piece by Salon laid out. 

“One of his biggest health care policy advisors falsely claimed birth control pills cause abortion, a pretext to ban the pill alongside actual abortion. His first Health and Human Services secretary, Tom Price, called for an end of federal funding for birth control and voted to allow employers to fire women for using contraception,” reporter Amanda Marcotte wrote. 

Trump’s administration also strategized to take away contraception by defunding family planning clinics that offer birth control at low or no cost and gutting the Affordable Care Act provision requiring insurance plans to cover contraception as they would any other preventive service, according to Salon. Even during the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration pushed to take away insurance coverage, taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court. The court ruled in favor of allowing employers to block women from using their own insurance to pay for contraception.

— Emine Yücel

AI Is Now Helping Write Bills To Oversee Itself

An Arizona House Republican revealed this week he used ChatGPT to help craft a subsection of House Bill 2394 — legislation that will allow Arizonians to get a court order declaring that the person in an artificial intelligence-driven impersonation, commonly known as a deepfake, is not them.

State Rep. Alex Kolodin told NBC News that he used the AI software to help define “what a deepfake was.”

“I was really struggling with the technical aspects of how to define what a deepfake was,” Kolodin said. “So I thought to myself, ‘Well, why not ask the subject matter expert, ChatGPT?’”

Using AI to write a bill to help combat a part of the technology that can easily be used for malicious purposes is quite clever. But as someone who has covered AI, it’s also a bit unnerving.

Kolodin says because proposed bills are reviewed by many, if ChatGPT “had effed up some of the language or did something that would have been harmful,” it would have been spotted. But can we know that for sure?

Kolodin’s bill was signed into law by Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) earlier this week.

Words Of Wisdom

“It does seem like they are trying to say Trump is a racist. And they have to go all the way back into the eighties to say he is a racist. I remember in the eighties, Blacks loved Trump.”

That’s Fox News’ Jesse Watters on Thursday commentating on the rally Donald Trump held in the Bronx in New York that evening.

This doesn’t happen very often but this week I’m not even sure where to start to unpack the stream of consciousness segment Watters attempted to host. I think it’s best to start by reminding y’all that Watters was about 17 months old in 1980. I’m no expert but I very much doubt that Watters remembers his favorite toy at that age let alone if “Blacks loved Trump.”

On top of that, anyone who has been paying attention to the news cycle over the past couple of years knows that no one needs to go all the way back to the eighties to find examples of Trumpian racism.

You’d think in 2024 I wouldn’t have to type these words but a reminder to Watters: Black America is not a monolith. 

But I guess none of this is surprising coming from the guy who, in the same segment, said, “Voters are like women. They want to be courted. They want you to lavish attention on them. So the Bronx is now like ‘Hey! Where have you been all my life? Come over here.’”

This story originally appeared on Talking Points Memo .

Like our content? Follow us for more

weekender-trump-birthcontrol-watters

  • Church Life
  • Books & Culture
  • Episcopal Musician’s Handbook
  • Living Church Books
  • The Living Word Plus
  • Illuminations
  • Anglicans Believe Pamphlet Series
  • Sundays Readings
  • Mass Setting
  • Free Newsletters

writing on the skin

  • TLC Subscriber Login
  • Illuminations Subscriber Login

Logo

Review by Phoebe Pettingell

Today, people may think of poetry and theology as significantly different enterprises, but this has not always been the case. In Christianity alone, a number of theologians were poets: Ambrose of Milan, Bernard of Clairvaux, Thomas Aquinas, to name only some of the greatest, not to mention such Anglicans as John Donne, George Herbert, or John Mason Neale.

In more recent times, John Paul II, as Karol Wojtyla, wrote powerful poems, although he claimed to have lost the context that inspired them after becoming pope. Rowan Williams had proved himself an extraordinary poet before and after his elevation to the See of Canterbury. He has also translated poems from German, Russian, and Welsh. These illuminate some of the Celtic poets of his native Wales, unfamiliar to English readers.

This latest volume contains not only all the work from his previous Collected Poems , but also Headwaters (2008) , and The Other Mountain (2014), along with 21 new verses. There are also three translations from priest-poet Euros Bowen (1904-88), who, although he did not publish until he was in his early 50s, became a modernizer of Welsh prosody.

Many of the more recent works were commissioned for various occasions, including the dedication of a new stained-glass window in the chapel of St. Catherine’s College, Cambridge; the centennial of Mametz, a 1914 battle involving Welsh regiments; and the 60th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster in 1966, when a colliery spoil tip slid downhill as slurry, killing 116 children between ages 7 and 10 and 28 adults in a school and row of houses.

Regarding a Child was composed to accompany the performance of Messiaen’s Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus. Williams bases his images on the drowned body of an immigrant child washed ashore in 2015. He has often associated the Christ child with the tragedy of children’s deaths, since an essential aspect of the Incarnation is that our sufferings are mirrored in those of the earthly life of Jesus, who even in glory retains his scars from his Passion.

“Preaching is cheap,” he has said, “if it fails to meet human beings at their darkest points.” His early poem, “Twelfth Night,” imagines the Magi, disillusioned that the birth of the newborn king brings not a renewal of paradise but the massacre of innocents, and the ultimate crucifixion. When the child finally answers, it is to tell the wise men,

You still are children, innocence not gone, what memory of yours is worth the name? where were you when the world’s foundations set in children’s blood?

Then the Word made flesh, both ancient and eternal, explains,

Your histories belong to me; here is not innocence but absolution, for your scars are true, but I always will bleed in them

Williams’s poems are often deep, needing careful, I want to say prayerful, reading and meditation to comprehend. But despite their somber themes, they aren’t pessimistic. They engage all five senses, sometimes with synesthesia: “thunder smells like woodsmoke and dusty paper” (“Hermitage, Kentucky, Thomas Merton at 100”), in which color becomes sound, sound odor, sight music. And in these things come epiphany, sometimes resurrection. For an incarnational faith, theology too embraces the Word made flesh, as poetry tries to do. It is not enough to merely explain, and how can God be explained, who is beyond anything our language contains, although art continues to attempt it. Metaphor is the Word made flesh.

My favorite (so far) of the new poems is “Thomas Cranmer,” that enigmatic figure to whom Anglicans owe so much, although he still eludes our understanding with his vacillations and ambiguities. Williams’s poem begins with a description of recycling parchment to reuse — something scholars like Cranmer needed to do when paper was expensive.

But the scraping down becomes his own preparation for his burning — “a skin to write on, naked, old, and fresh.” Is the enigma of Cranmer best resolved in the light of his martyrdom? The resonant words and images here capture the nuanced complexities both of their subject and a poet whose work hovers, as Rowan Williams has said, on “the edge of words,” where language tries to overcome the limits of the inexpressible as it creates something original and fresh.

Phoebe Pettingell is a writer and editor living in northern Wisconsin.

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

Top headlines. Every Friday.

Rowan Williams Weighs in on Wedding Photos Row

A harsh leadership dispute at a center for racial healing, tempest in the anglican church of mexico, after resisting a collar, she’s in line for a miter, saint thomas choir school in danger of closing, episcopalians contend with violence in haiti.

  • Classifieds

Most Recent

Bishop-elect eager for seattle ministry, gc to consider churchwide reparations for slavery, phod forum and a third candidate for vphod, deadline approaches for christian unity in rome.

  • Board and Foundation

The Magazine

  • Subscriber services
  • Gift subscriptions
  • Recent Issues
  • Archive (2021 and earlier)
  • Episcopal Musician’s Handbook
  • Missa Brevis | Mass Setting
  • Become a Partner

© 2024 The Living Church Foundation. All rights reserved.

A  hand under a shower of water.

Is hard water bad for you? 2 water quality engineers explain the potential benefits and pitfalls that come with having hard water

writing on the skin

Master's Student in Civil Engineering, Iowa State University

writing on the skin

Associate Professor of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, Iowa State University

Disclosure statement

Sarah Blank is affiliated with the Ames Water Treatment Plant.

Timothy Ellis receives funding from the City of Ames, the City of Cedar Rapids, and the City of Fort Dodge, Iowa. He is affiliated with the Water Environment Federation.

Iowa State University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

View all partners

When you turn on your faucet to get a glass of water or wash your face, you’re probably not thinking about what’s in your water – besides water. Depending on where you live and whether you have a water-softening system, your water might contain dissolved minerals such as calcium and magnesium. And these minerals can play a role in whether certain pollutants such as lead stay out of your water.

The more dissolved minerals, the “harder” your water . But is hard water actually good or bad for you?

As engineering researchers who study water quality, we have seen the effects – both good and bad – that soft and hard water can have on everything from plumbing systems to the human body.

What is hard water?

Hard water is water that contains dissolved minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and manganese. Soft water contains lower concentrations of these minerals.

Hardness is measured in terms of calcium carbonate, CaCO₃, which is used as a reference point for comparing different minerals.

The amount of these minerals in a city’s water supply varies by region . It depends on both where the water is coming from and how the water is treated.

Communities that source their water from wells rather than surface water such as lakes, streams, rivers and reservoirs often start with hard water pretreatment. As groundwater moves through the soil to a well, it picks up minerals. At the same time, areas where the types of rock and sediment are more prone to dissolving in water may have harder water.

Effects on water lines and distribution

Water that’s too hard or too soft could damage pipes and lead to health and aesthetic concerns .

Since hard water has a higher mineral concentration, minerals can build up in pipes, which leads to clogged pipes in homes and public water systems. Hardness also creates more deposits at higher temperatures , so hot water heaters are prone to mineral buildup. In areas with hard water, water heaters have a shorter life span.

A pipe with gray material around the inside.

But hard water can help, too. While minerals from hard water can clog pipes, a thin layer of mineral deposition in water lines can protect you from ingesting toxins that could seep in from the pipe itself. Water without any minerals can play a role in pipe corrosion, because without a thin, protective layer of minerals, the water may start to eat away at the pipes, releasing metals from the pipes into the water. Drinking this water might mean ingesting metals such as lead, copper and iron.

While water that is too soft or too hard can have different effects on water lines, there is more chemistry than just hardness that plays a role in pipe corrosion and clogging. So, there’s no specific hardness level that is a cause for concern. Water treatment plants take the appropriate measures to adjust for different hardness levels.

A large tank of water, with fences around the top.

Effects on skin and hair

Whether you use hard or soft water to wash up can also have noticeable effects on your skin and hair.

Hard water is more likely to leave your skin dry . The minerals in hard water strip moisture from skin and create deposits that clog pores.

Hard water can also strip the hair of moisture, leaving it dry and coarse. Dry hair is more prone to frizz, tangles and breakage . Mineral deposits can also build up on the hair and scalp, clogging your hair follicles and leading to dandruff and slowed hair growth.

Many households have their own water-softening systems . A water-softening system may help hair and skin dryness and buildup. But many of these systems trap and replace calcium and magnesium with sodium, a mineral that does not contribute to water hardness, to lower overall hardness. Increasing the water’s sodium content may be a concern for anyone on a low-sodium diet.

Overall health benefits

Other than aesthetic and water heater concerns, drinking hard water is actually good for you and doesn’t come with any serious adverse side effects.

For example, the extra magnesium and calcium you consume in hard water may provide a gentle solution to digestive issues and constipation.

Also, researchers have found positive correlations between the hardness of drinking water and bone health . Since calcium is an essential mineral in bones , individuals in areas with drinking water that has more calcium may have higher bone mineral density and may be less prone to osteoporosis .

Researchers have also found that drinking hard water has been associated with a decrease in cardiovascular disease-related mortality . Magnesium helps regulate your cardiac muscles, while calcium keeps the sodium-potassium balance in your cardiac muscles in check, which they need to function.

Whether you have hard or soft water, don’t worry too much. Water treatment plants take appropriate measures to ensure safe water for the communities they support.

To learn more about the water hardness in your area, you can contact your local water treatment plant about its specific water treatment process. Private well owners can contact their state government to find out the testing recommendations for their area.

  • Groundwater
  • Water quality
  • Water treatment

writing on the skin

Research Fellow

writing on the skin

Senior Research Fellow - Women's Health Services

writing on the skin

Lecturer / Senior Lecturer - Marketing

writing on the skin

Assistant Editor - 1 year cadetship

writing on the skin

Executive Dean, Faculty of Health

IMAGES

  1. Writing on the Skin- Dermatographism!

    writing on the skin

  2. Yes, there is a condition that lets you write on your skin (video

    writing on the skin

  3. Body writing, bodywriting, writing on skin, uplifting and positive

    writing on the skin

  4. If You Have This Condition, You Can Write on Your Skin—No Pen Required

    writing on the skin

  5. Allergic to Stress: Dermatographic Urticaria

    writing on the skin

  6. Adorable: Body writing, bodywriting, writing on skin, uplifting and

    writing on the skin

VIDEO

  1. Writing In Skin

  2. Top 10 Fortnite skins #fortnite #song#cool#skin#dio#writing#neonwriting

  3. Writing Skin Color

  4. Write It on Your Skin

  5. skin like leaves

  6. Dermatographia "skin writing disease" timelapse #shorts

COMMENTS

  1. Dermatographia (Dermatographism)

    Dermatographia is a condition in which lightly scratching your skin causes raised, inflamed lines or welts. These marks tend to go away in less than 30 minutes. The condition is also known as dermatographism and skin writing. The cause of dermatographia is unknown, but it may be related to an infection, emotional upset or a medicine you're taking.

  2. Dermatographia: Causes and treatment of skin writing

    Although skin writing may sound exotic, dermatographia is a common condition, affecting 2 to 5 percent of the population. It is considered one of the more prevalent forms of hives and accounts for ...

  3. Dermatograpia: What to Know About Skin Writing

    3 min read. Dermatographia, also called skin writing, is a condition that causes an allergic reaction when skin is scratched. This reaction looks like hives or welts. It may even happen when the ...

  4. Dermatographism: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

    Dermatographism (also known as dermatographia) is a common, benign skin condition in which even a small amount of pressure, like scratching, causes the skin to swell along the line where it was applied. Also called"skin writing," the condition is not an allergy, though it can resemble an allergy-like rash and cause itching within a matter of minutes.

  5. Dermatographia (Dermatographism): What It Is, Causes & Treatment

    Dermatographia is a skin condition that causes raised marks. Scratching, rubbing and pressure cause the reaction. It usually goes away within 30 minutes without treatment. Other names for dermatographia include dermatographism and skin writing.

  6. Dermatographic urticaria

    Signs and symptoms Dermatographic urticaria is sometimes called "skin writing", as it is possible to mark deliberate patterns onto the skin. The condition manifests as an allergic-like reaction, causing a warm red wheal to appear on the skin. As it is often the result of scratches, involving contact with other materials, it can be confused with an allergic reaction, when in fact it is the act ...

  7. Dermographism: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

    Dermographism (also called dermatographia, dermatographic urticaria, dermatographic hives, or writing on the skin) is a condition that produces red, itchy bumps or raised lines on the skin, and is considered a type of hives. The marks usually appear after the skin is irritated by scratching, rubbing, pressure, or another form of contact. Some people experience dermographism with autoimmune ...

  8. Dermatographia: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

    Summary. Dermatographia is a common, usually harmless, skin condition. People with dermatographia develop raised marks or welts on their skin when they scratch, rub, or apply pressure to their skin. The welts form in the shape of the pressure applied. This article will define dermatographia and explain the symptoms, causes, and treatments.

  9. Dermographism Urticaria: Background, Pathophysiology and Etiology

    The term dermographism (or dermatographism) literally means writing on the skin. Firm stroking of the skin produces an initial red line (capillary dilatation), followed by an axon-reflex flare with broadening erythema (arteriolar dilatation) and the formation of a linear wheal (transudation of fluid/edema); these events are collectively termed the triple response of Lewis.

  10. What Is Dermatographia or Skin Writing?

    Apparently I had a condition called dermatographia, or "skin writing.". "It's probably more common than people think," says Andrea Kalus, M.D., a dermatologist who practices at UW Medical Center Roosevelt. Doctors classify dermatographia as a type of urticaria, or hives, and suspect it is a histamine reaction.

  11. How Do You Get Rid of Dermatographia?

    The term dermatographism or dermographism literally means writing on the skin. Red wheals form in the shape of the pressure applied on the skin. Wheals usually develop within five minutes after scratching and go away on their own within 30 minutes. Delayed type of dermatographia may last from several hours to days.

  12. Dermographism Urticaria Treatment & Management

    The term dermographism (or dermatographism) literally means writing on the skin. Firm stroking of the skin produces an initial red line (capillary dilatation), followed by an axon-reflex flare with broadening erythema (arteriolar dilatation) and the formation of a linear wheal (transudation of fluid/edema); these events are collectively terme...

  13. Why Do I Have Dermatographia (Skin Writing)?

    Dermatographia — also called "skin writing" — is a condition where people develop raised red lines when pressure is applied to their skin. Some people develop severe itching from dermatographia that can interfere with their daily lives. Taking medications, like antihistamines, and avoiding triggers can help people manage their symptoms.

  14. Dermatographic Urticaria: What to Know About Skin Writing

    But if you have dermatographic urticaria, a condition referred to as skin writing, you won't have to scratch so hard to get a reaction. Even moderate pressure or irritation can trigger an exaggerated response. Allergy-like symptoms, such as minor, temporary skin flares or swelling can develop and last more than just a few minutes.

  15. Dermatographism

    Dermatographism. Dermatographism, also known as dermagraphism, simply translates "writing on the skin". It is a very common localized hive reaction, affecting approximately 2-5% of the general population. This condition is characterized by the abrupt onset of welts and hives where the skin is exposed to pressure, scratching, itching or stroking.

  16. Dermographism: Writing on the skin

    Translated, dermographism means skin writing. It is a type of urticaria that usually occurs in teenagers and younger adults and can last a few weeks to a lifetime. Those that develop it later in ...

  17. Dermatographism

    Dermatographism, also known as dermographism urticaria, or urticaria factitia, is an urticarial eruption upon pressure or trauma to the skin. The literal meaning is "to write on the skin." Downward pressure on the skin produces a linear wheal in the shape of the applied external force. Dermatographism is the most common type of inducible ...

  18. Graphesthesia

    Graphesthesia. Graphesthesia is the ability to recognize writing on the skin purely by the sensation of touch. Its name derives from Greek graphē ("writing") and aisthēsis ("perception"). Graphesthesia tests combined cortical sensation; therefore, it is necessary that primary sensation be intact. [1]

  19. Dermatographism Treatment

    Please call (512) 535-2655 or email [email protected] to schedule an appointment today! Book an appointment. Dermatographism, also known as skin writing, is a skin condition characterized by inflammation, redness & itching when skin is rubbed or scratched. Frontier Allergy can help you with diagnosis and treatment.

  20. Stress can be "the triggering factor" for skin problems ...

    This can help in preventing a cycle of stress-induced skin issues like acne flares, for example, which for stressed or anxious people may lead to skin picking, further worsening the situation.

  21. ‎The Skin

    The Skin - Chapter 1 - Back. Prologue - Hospital. Pain. A doctor talking to a patient. This is how we meet Katherine Williams and her past as a supermodel. It was less beautiful than people generally believe. But her current situation doesn't seem very pleasant either. Chapter 1 • Andy Peterson, haunted by his missing wife Fran, is skipping ...

  22. A Veep Who Wants Your Skin Ripped Off

    According to new reporting from the New York Times, Cotton is on Trump's shortlist of potential vice presidential candidates. Others include Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), J.D. Vance (R-OH), Tim ...

  23. A Skin to Write On

    A Skin to Write On. By Kirk Petersen. July 16, 2022. Collected Poems. By Rowan Williams. Carcanet Press, pp. 249, $22.99. As an Amazon Associate, TLC earns from qualifying purchases. Review by Phoebe Pettingell. Today, people may think of poetry and theology as significantly different enterprises, but this has not always been the case.

  24. Is hard water bad for you? 2 water quality engineers explain the

    The minerals in hard water strip moisture from skin and create deposits that clog pores. Hard water can also strip the hair of moisture, leaving it dry and coarse. Dry hair is more prone to frizz ...