A visit to the allergist has yielded a diagnosis of chronic idiopathic urticaria. In other words: I itch, for reasons unknown. The doctor was very good: he took a thorough history, asked lots of questions, and explained everything in a manner that was scientific yet comprehensible. Best of all, he was neither dismissive nor condescending (two features of conversations I have had with doctors in years past, that have made me Very Annoyed Indeed). I highly recommend this allergist.
The fun part was the demonstration of concomitant dermatographic urticaria: the doctor took his pen, and with the reverse end -- so that no ink was drawn -- traced two parallel lines on my forearm, and then two parallel lines on one of my shoulders (two lines, two locations, to ensure it was not just a single coincidence). Within a couple of minutes, all of the lines turned red, puffed up, and became wheals. Lovely!
So now I have instructions for the right doses of antihistamines (both H1 and H2 antihistamines), and we shall see how it goes.
While researching chronic idiopathic urticaria, I came across several websites and articles that discussed histamine intolerance and its "H" triad --- hives, headache, heartburn -- and I wondered whether that may also be tied into the chronic urticaria. The science is unclear (and, in fact, I'm not entirely sure whether it is actual science or pseudoscience), but nevertheless, the descriptions all fit fairly precisely what I am experiencing. And so, I shall begin a low histamine diet tomorrow. It should not be terribly taxing: most of the high histamine or histamine-releasing foods are ones I have already identified as being headache-inducing and thus should avoid anyway. I will be interested to see whether strict adherence to such a diet helps.
I am frustrated. Adding another chronic discomfort to my repertoire of chronic health conditions is disheartening, to say the least. Yet, to have some answers is a Good Thing.
We shall see how it goes.
Dermographism - found all over the interwebs.