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Dermatitis Herpetiformis

Dermatitis herpetiformis is often a manifestation of gluten sensitivity which is depicted by extremely itchy blisters and elevated skin lesions. It is an uncommon skin problem which occurs on the scalp, knees, elbows and sometimes, on the face. The severity of the condition differs from person to person.

Dermatitis herpetiformis is also called gluten sensitive enteropathy, Duhring disease, Brocq-Duhring disease, DH and Dermatitis multiformis. Because it is also associated with Celiac Disease, it is sometimes referred to as Celiac Skin.

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Symptoms of Dermatitis herpetiformis

Dermatitis herpetiformis is manifested as clusters of itchy, small, red bumps on the back, knees, elbows, scalp and buttocks. Small water blisters can be noticed but they are easily scratched off. DH may heal on its own after a couple of weeks, but may recur.

This skin condition can affect anyone, from children to the elderly, whether male or female. However, people who are in their 20’s to 40’s, including those who are suffering from Celiac Disease and have gluten sensitivities, are highly susceptible. Statistics showed that DH occurs in 1 out of 400 people and those with northern European origin will likely get it.

Causes of Dermatitis herpetiformis

The condition occurs as a result of the body’s abnormal reaction to gluten, not by the herpes virus as the name may imply. Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat and grains. When the body is gluten-sensitive, it wrongly attacks gluten by forming antibodies to ward it off. They will combine with gluten and travel to the bloodstream. When they enter the small veins in the skin, they initiate an inflammatory reaction resulting to dermatitis herpetiformis.

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Diagnosis and Treatment for Dermatitis herpetiformis

The condition is diagnosed through skin biopsy or the usual diagnostic tests for Celiac Disease, such as blood tests or intestinal biopsy. To treatment DH, the following is employed:

  • Medication

Drugs help in alleviating skin rashes very quickly, but they do not cure the disease completely. Despite their effectiveness in controlling the skin rashes, patients who discontinue taking them will develop the rashes once again.

  • Gluten-free diet

It may take some time to get impressive results through a gluten-free diet after bouts of dermatitis herpetiformis have already happened. But the good thing about this method is it can prevent and even reverse the symptoms of the skin condition.

Dermatitis herpetiformis pictures

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