LIFESTYLE

'I Feel Like A Human Etch-A-Sketch': Woman With Rare Condition Can Scratch Temporary Notes Onto Her Skin

11/01/2016 12:50 GMT | Updated 11/01/2016 14:59 GMT

Hannah Arbuthnott has a rare condition which means she can draw and write on her skin - much like a "human Etch-A-Sketch".

Arbuthnott, 21, suffers from dermatographia which leaves her covered in red, raised marks when she lightly scratches herself or wears tight clothing.

The 21-year-old from Bartestree, Herefordshire said that the painful condition allows her to draw shapes and write on her skin. The marks will then disappear within half an hour.

"It makes me feel like a human Etch-A-Sketch because the rash will raise where I've written on my arm and then it will vanish," she said, according to the Mail Online.

hannah arbuthnott

Hannah Arbuthnott

Arbuthnott said: "My reactions happen all the time, they're really tricky to avoid because the simplest things like someone lightly brushing my arm with their hand can set off a reaction."

Dermatographia is a condition also known as "skin writing". It means that when patients lightly scratch their skin, a histamine is released in the body which causes the skin to become red and raised - similar to hives.

The marks then usually disappear within 30 minutes.

According to Lindsey McManus, deputy CEO of AllergyUK, the condition is "a form of urticaria".

For some people it can be caused by anything rubbing or putting physical pressure on the skin. These can include scratching an itch, wearing a tight waistband or a bra-strap rubbing.

Despite the skin condition being painful, Arbuthnott said she has learned to live with it and has even made it into a party trick.

"In the past I've drawn smileys and other little pictures on my arm," she explained.

hannah arbuthnott

She explained that she knows when the reaction is happening because she experiences a "deep sore itch" under the skin. This was difficult to deal with at first, but has become more manageable.

She said that her hands and feet are the worst areas affected as there is always pressure being put on them, but added that she tries not to let it affect her life.

The condition first flared up in 2011, when red marks began to appear on her face and hands.

Arbuthnott underwent food allergy tests, but the results came back negative.

The condition developed when she had a reaction to her face wash, which left her face itching badly. Before long, the itching had spread and her skin felt like it was on fire.

After taking anti-allergy medicine and finding it didn't work, Arbuthnott visited a private dermatologist who told her she had dermatographia.

She said that since her diagnosis, she has sought solace by talking to people with similar problems on Facebook groups.

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