I’m Allergic to Touch—This Is How I Take Care of My Skin

I have a condition called dermatographia.

Cleanse, moisturize, sleep, repeat—or not. From the 18-product maximalists to the one-and-done movers and shakers, everybody’s skin care routine differs. In A.M. to P.M., we explore the morning and evening routines of people with different skin care concerns, from targeting acne to embracing vegan beauty.

Age: 39

Skin type: Sensitive

Skin concerns: Eczema and acne

Two years ago, I was doing my morning yoga when my hands started to become very itchy. Within minutes, I had red hives all over my body from scratching the parts of my body that itched. At the time, I passed it off as a reaction to the penicillin I was prescribed, but it was more than that. The itchiness didn’t go away, and I’d frequently get red streaks from applying the slightest bit of pressure on my body. Two weeks later I was diagnosed with dermatographia by my allergist.

Dermatographia, which is often to referred as “skin writing,” is a a form of hives. “The condition gets it name because patients are able to scratch out words into their own skin,” explains Kenneth Howe, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. “The pressure and friction of a fingernail running across the skin causes reddish and slightly raised lines to raise up.”

While the cause of dermatographia is unknown, it’s believed to be triggered in some people by infections, emotional upset, or medications such as penicillin. “The disorder is fairly common and occurs in about two to five precent of the population,” says Dr. Howe.

Most people with dermatographia don’t need treatment, but others with the more severe symptomatic version of the disorder are advised to take antihistamines, such as Zyrtec or Claritin. Mine is on the lighter side, but I still have to be careful with how I treat my skin. Here’s how I do it.


I have very sensitive skin, so I try to use the least amount of products and look for skin care with minimal and gentle ingredients. First, I wash my face with Ethique’s In Your Face cleanser, which is a gentle soap-free bar that’s pH balanced. I still suffer from hormonal acne from time to time, and this cleanser helps treat it while being gentle enough for my skin.

allergic to touch skincare routine

Ethique In Your Face Cleansing Bars

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If my eyes are looking really tired, I like to use Arbonne’s RE9 Advanced Prepwork Gel Eye Masks. The gold jelly masks are super hydrating and work like magic by softening the lines around my puffy eyes and giving my skin a refreshed and glowy appearance.

After that, I follow with Derma E Vitamin C Renewing Moisturizer. It’s been a lifesaver for me, since my skin has reacted to other moisturizers I’ve used in the past. What I really love about this moisturizer is that it’s creamy and moisturizing, yet it feels light on my skin, and I’m able to wear it under my makeup without my face becoming oily. Plus, it smells amazing.

Dermatographia allergic to touch skincare routine

Derma E Vitamin C Renewing Moisturizer

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My evening skincare routine is really simple. First, I saturate my MakeUp Eraser cloth in warm water to remove my makeup. I prefer to use this instead of a cleanser since I can lightly scrub my face with the cloth without worrying that the friction will cause my skin to turn red. Plus, no added skincare products.

Dermatographia allergic to touch skincare routine

MakeUp Eraser

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Then, I follow up with Suki’s Concentrated Skin Clarifying Toner, which uses ingredients such as salicylic acid from white willow bark and organic roses that calm and reduce redness. My breakouts have reduced since I’ve started using this.

Lastly, I gently rub two drops of Inika Organic’s Phyto Active Rosehip Oil Blend into my face. The oil contains rosehip oil, hemp oil, and antioxidant-rich aniseed myrtle. These ingredients work together to help reduce signs of premature aging by nourishing and repairing dry skin. I like using this oil compared to other oils because it absorbs quickly into the skin without leaving a residue.

Every two weeks, I take some time to myself and make a cup of lavender earl grey tea, light a few candles, and apply a face mask. My mask of choice is Marin Bee’s Detox Masque; the honey clay mask is designed to restore and balance the skin while reducing redness. The mask itself is super easy to use and has the consistency of honey when it’s applied, but rather than the struggle to remove it that comes with a lot of clay masks, this one melts away with just water. No harsh scrubbing is needed. The end result is soft, smooth, and refreshed skin.

Dermatographia skincare routine allergic to touch

Marin Bee Detox Masque

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One of the biggest things I’ve learned about having dermatographia is that having this skin disorder is not the end of the world. Keeping my skin well hydrated and managing emotional stress are the best tools to manage the condition, and I’ve got mine under control.

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