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Skin Care and Diseases

Itching of the skin

06/05/2005

Question:

Can you help me on my problem on my skin. I develop a kind of skin irritation that causes redness itching and small mosquito like bites and its spreading when i scratch it. Sometimes rubbing with some object causes this irritation or due to hot climate.

Answer:

Your description easily fits the diagnosis of dermatographism or pressure urticaria.  All of the components that you describe are defined by that entity.  The cause of dermatographic urticaria is not always known but clearly the pounding of water, the rubbing of the skin would produce red wheals, many of which are papular and minic insect bites with the exception that they lack a central punctum or bite site.

In most patients, this is a benign phenomena that has no associated significant medical component.  Depending upon your age you may wish to consult your primary care physician for a general physical and screening laboratory review to be certain that all systems are go.  My patients are treated with a nonsedating antihistamine systemically and occasionally with a topical antihistamine such as Zonalon cream (doxepin cream).  You may wish to tub bathe instead of shower and to wear loose fitting clothing to minimize pressure on the skin.  Experience has indicated that if this process is appropriately suppressed it often resolves over a several year period, but may continue indefinitely.  It is important to be certain that there are no underlying medical problems that are at this moment relatively asymptomatic.

I urge you to see a board certified dermatologist or knowledgeable family physician.

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Response by:

Charles L Heaton, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati