Evaluation of patients with symptomatic dermographism

O Taşkapan, Y Harmanyeri
Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology: JEADV 2006, 20 (1): 58-62

BACKGROUND: Dermographism or 'simple' dermographism, which has been noted in about 1.5% to 5% of healthy individuals, is regarded as a normal physiological phenomenon. However, in symptomatic dermographism (SD), even light pressure or rubbing from clothes may provoke widespread weal-and-flare reactions with itching and burning. It is one of the dermatologic diseases that negatively impacts quality of life.

OBJECTIVE: We aimed to reveal triggering factors and/or associated clinical conditions in patients with SD.

METHODS: Forty patients (28 women and 12 men) with SD whose ages varied between 7 and 65 (30.3 +/- 10.7) participated in the study. Patients having chronic idiopathic urticaria, other types of physical urticaria and cutaneous/systemic mastocytosis were excluded. The diagnosis of SD was confirmed by stroking the skin of the back with a tongue blade. This procedure elicited within minutes a linear weal with a flare and severe itching. In light of the history, physical examination, skin prick test (SPT) with aeroallergens and laboratory results, a possible relationship of certain triggering factors and/or associated diseases (psychic factors, atopy, thyroid diseases, diabetes, menopause, infectious, systemic or malignant diseases, history of scabies, and history of drug reaction) to SD were investigated.

RESULTS: The duration of SD varied between 10 days and 10 years (mean: 20.8 months). Psychic factors were found to play the initial triggering role in 12 patients (30%). Five patients (12.50%) were atopic, and they had SPT reactivity to house dust mites. Three female patients (7.50%) defined that their complaints began following drug-induced urticarial rash. Two patients (5%) had hyperthyroidism, and one of the patients with SD of 1-month duration had type-II diabetes mellitus. A female patient defined that her complaints began during the onset of menopausal period. SD was observed with scabies in one patient; and after poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis in a 7-year-old girl. No autoimmune, malignant or other systemic diseases were found in patients with SD.

CONCLUSIONS: Contrary to commonly held opinion, SD may be associated with some diseases and/or triggered by some conditions. In this study, a close temporal relationship between the appearance of SD and psychic factors, drug reactions and scabies was documented. The relation between SD and atopy, hyperthyroidism, diabetes mellitus, menopause and glomerulonephritis seemed unclear.

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