Living With Dermatographia
When I was a kid, my parents first thought I was allergic to grass. And then they thought it was the soap or laundry detergent. But then they wondered if it was something I ate or something I wore. Surely I couldn't be allergic to ALL of those things!?! Why was I constantly itchy? Where did these red welt-like hives come from?
My parents were clueless, and doctors were of no help at all! Their response was "it's an allergic reaction, it'll go away on its own. But you'll have to take allergy medication for an undefined amount of time."
I never got a real answer or a solution for that matter.
Eventually, it became a part of who I was. I learned to accept the itchy sensations and avoid scratching. I was comforted by the thought that it would go away on its own… one day. But years and years passed, and it never went away.
It wasn't until early high school that I decided I had enough. I was tired of not being able to walk barefoot on the beach, sit on the grass, play contact sports like volleyball, wear shorts or short-sleeved shirts, basically anything normal, without having an allergic reaction.
I needed to figure out what this was and find a way to make it go away. I turned to Google and looked for similar symptoms and skin reactions. And then, I finally figured it out!
I have Dermatographia!
Every picture I saw and description I read matched what my skin looked like after scratching.
I read stories of people whose lives were also impacted by this and learned that for some people, it just never goes away.
Dermatographic urticaria (otherwise known as dermographism, dermatographia, dermatographism, or skin writing) is a skin disorder which affects approximately 5% of the US population. Unfortunately, there is no cure, there are only tips and tricks to help manage the symptoms.
To get a better understanding, imagine an intense itch. Being able to pinpoint the exact location, yet not able to actually scratch it. The itching is mostly always there and once you detect a certain spot, it just gets stronger and stronger. Giving in to the urge will send you into a downward spiral of uncontrollable scratching - allowing welts and hives to rise.
You’d think that surely one little scratch can’t hurt.
You convince yourself that it'll be fine, you can control yourself. And so, you give in. The relief is instant and insanely pleasurable.
And at that moment, you realize your mistake because now, your skin looks swollen and red. The hives are starting to rise and spread. The itching gets so much worse, only this time, it's so intense that you can't stop yourself.
And so, you scratch. You scratch, scratch, scratch because now your whole body is itching. Until finally, there are so many welts and hives that the itching starts to recede. The pain sets in and you realize just how much damage you've inflicted to yourself.
This is what living with dermatographia feels like. Every day is a test of willpower. Any slight brush against my skin has the possibility of setting off a scratching fit.
It has now been 19 years since I first noticed the symptoms (I am 24) and in those years, I've learned to overcome the constant irritation during the day. At night, however, is when my skin condition is the most problematic. When I'm asleep it is impossible to restrain myself, which is when these scratching surges are the most intense.
Any slight pilling or roughness is all it takes.
This started to become a serious problem in my life. Especially when my partner started to wake up in the middle of the night because of my scratching. When every night ended this way, we realized we needed to find sheets that were smooth and consistently soft with every wash.
I tried many kinds of sheets, made of many different materials. I tried organic cotton, linen, and even sheets that were well over $200. Yet, I still found myself scratching throughout the night.
When we couldn't find the right sheets, my partner, his brother, and I decided to start The Bed Sheet Club, to help people like me. We researched various fabrics and it wasn't until we came across high-end microfiber that we found the solution.
It turns out that microfiber sheets are actually hypoallergenic because they are naturally impervious to dust mites, allergens, oder, and moisture. A single fiber usually consists of several staples bound together. However, with microfiber you have extra long staples, resulting in a softer and more durable fabric that is resistant to frays and pills. The threads are thinner than a strand of silk, which, in my opinion, gives them their best feature— a feather-light softness.
I want only the softest, highest quality sheets for my skin. I need to be surrounded by comfort in order to sleep well. And this is why I only sleep in our high-end microfiber sheet sets.
Having dermatographia for so many years, I've learned how to manage my skin condition during the day. Now, with The Bed Sheet Club, I am happy to say that I have found a way to sleep well throughout the night, which I never thought would be possible!