Advertisement
Skip navigation links
Allergy and Immunology Glossary
Ask the Allergist
Patient's Rights on Health Care Reform
Letters to the Editor
Patient Newsletter
FAQ
Photo Gallery
Patient Support Organizations
Research
Meetings & Events
Download Resources
Seasonal Allergy News
Find an Allergist
ACAAI > Patients & Public > Resources > Ask the Allergist

I Have Hives from Scratching! Am I Allergic to Myself?

Q.  I’ve noticed recently that when I scratch myself I’m breaking out in hives in that area! Am I allergic to myself, should I be worried?  What type of treatment is available for this?  

A.  No you are not allergic to yourself; exposure to certain types of physical stimuli like pressure (like scratching yourself), cold, and heat can cause hives.  Doctors refer to this type of skin condition, which accounts for nearly 20 percent of hives as physical urticaria (the medical term for hives).  One of the most common mechanisms of physical urticarial that has been identified is dermatographism.  The name of this skin condition means “skin writing” in Greek (derma is “skin”, graphe is “writing”).  The ability to write letters or symbols by stroking your skin (with your fingernails or a retracted ball point pen, for example), which results in blanching (whitening of your skin) that’s followed by redness and swelling (hives), is the most obvious sign of this often harmless form of hives.  Dermatographism affects approximately 5 percent of the U.S. population and can persist for years until the outbreaks disappear.  Common triggers for dermatographism include rubbing, scratching, or stroking the skin.  Tight clothing or pressure from leaning against hard surfaces (a chair or desk) can also cause this form of hives.  A rarer, more severe form of dermatographism can occur following bacterial, fungal, or scabies infections, or after treating a bacterial infection with penicillin.  If you feel you have any of these then you should speak to your allergist.

 

Allergy and Asthma Relief Test

If you have allergies or asthma, use the Allergy and Asthma Relief Self-Test to review your symptoms and see if you need to find relief.

Learn More »

Find an Allergist

Allergists are specialists at treating both allergies and asthma. They can explain how your allergies can affect your asthma and steps you need to take to keep both conditions under control. Find an allergist in your zip code and find relief.

Learn More »