Life Video

BY NICOLAS FERNANDES


An artist has embraced her ‘skin writing’ condition, using her finger to draw flowers, palm trees and butterflies on her body. 

Melissa Tarntino, 47, of Corning, New York, USA, suffers from Dermatographia, which causes raised wheals and hives on the form on her skin from the slightest touch.   

PIC BY MELISSA TARNTINO / CATERS NEWS

Having painted her whole life, she decided to embrace the condition, that affects 5% of the world’s population, by getting artistic on her skin a decade ago.  

After transferring her abilities to her arms and legs, she has found a way to embrace the urticaria.  

Creating artworks such as flowers, palm trees, butterflies and ice cream cones on herself, she has become more positive about the condition that causes red, itchy hives. 

Since taking up the hobby, Melissa has switched from prescription medication to Benadryl so that she won’t lose her ability to create body art. 

She said: “It’s mostly doodling, but it really helps me express myself as an artist.

“I never even used to think of drawing on myself, but I found that it was a way of truly embracing my condition. 

PIC BY MELISSA TARNTINO / CATERS NEWS

“Many sufferers understandably choose to hide. I choose to put myself out there as an example that it’s OK to be different.

“At least I am able to make the best of it and have fun. A lot of people who suffer from this disease haven’t learned how to deal with it and they suffer terribly.

“It’s not always roses like my drawings. A lot of times I will get a major flare up and my skin head to toe feels like it is crawling and it itches uncontrollably.

“During a flare up, just putting on clothes will cause my skin to itch and welt. The worst is how my face is always red and splotchy.

“Most who suffer from this disease would find that a blessing to lose the symptoms, but I rather missed being able to draw on my skin. It was apart of me.” 

PIC BY MELISSA TARNTINO / CATERS NEWS

When the artist first started drawing on her skin, she only showed it to family members because she feared negative reactions from strangers. 

But after several years of doing it, she built up the courage to show off her skin art in public.  

Melissa said: “It’s not the easiest thing to show people. Most have no idea what it is.

“It truly is a gift to have. If I could get rid of every aspect of the condition except the ability to draw on myself, I would.” 

The artist recently started sharing images of her skin art on social media, which has garnered a lot of positive comments. 

PIC BY MELISSA TARNTINO / CATERS NEWS

Some have even reached out to her saying that they have the same disorder, but never knew what it was.  

Melissa said: “It was so much easier for me to post the photos on social media than it was to show off my art in public. 

“I’ve gotten a really positive response and even made others realize that they have Dermatographia.” 

With the summer approaching, her symptoms are expected to worsen due to the warm weather and pollen in the air. 

But over the years, she has learned how to control her condition during the summer months. 

PIC BY MELISSA TARNTINO / CATERS NEWS

Melissa said: “It always gets worse in the summer, but I just have to be careful.

“The trick is watching out for things that can trigger the hives.”