Dermatographia of the vulva is a cause of vulvar itching of allergic origin, when skin is touched, and can be put on the list of diagnoses in severe itching that doesn’t respond to antifungal drugs. Dermatographia patients will respond well to antihistamines where other types of medication has failed.

Derma = skin
Graphia = writing

Symptoms of dermatographia

  • Raised red lines on the skin, in this case the vulva
  • Swelling
  • Inflammation
  • Burning
  • Hives
  • Welts
  • Itching
  • Stinging
  • Usually a few minutes after being touched, rubbed or scratched
  • Disappear within half an hour
  • Slow versions exist that develop over several hours or days
  • Condition may last for months or years (susceptibility)
  • Triggers include sex, anything that touches the vulva, anything causing friction including tight clothes, riding a bike
  • Antifungals and corticosteroids provide no relief

Diagnosing vulvar dermatographia

A scratch test on another part of the body can provide clues as to the diagnosis, but it’s not definitive. If there is a negative scratch test somewhere else on the body, like the abdomen, it does not rule out local vulvar dermatographia.

Treating vulvar dermatographia

Treatments can include over-the-counter oral antihistamines, but in the past some people have resorted to a vulvectomy – the complete removal of the vulva – to alleviate the itching and discomfort. That is extreme, and very much off the cards with proper treatment for the allergic symptoms.

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)
Read more about Jessica and My Vagina's origin story.