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Dermatitis Herpetiformis

Dermatitis herpetiformis is a very unpleasant disease which presents itself as an itchy rash accompanied by blisters and bumps on various parts of the body. It’s a chronic disease which means the symptoms continue over a long period of time. In this article we’ll present an overview of this disease including the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, complications and recommendations for prevention. By the end of this article you’ll have a general understanding of dermatitis herpetiformis and some ideas of what you can try to improve the symptoms of the disease.


The primary herpetiformis symptoms are an extremely itchy rash along with bumps and blisters. The rash and bumps generally appear on the knees, elbows, back, and buttocks. Symptoms can come and go. The area where the bumps appear can occasionally have a burning sensation.


The cause is unknown at this time. The disease has been linked to gluten intolerance, a gluten allergy and celiac disease. This disease impacts both men and women and generally affects people over 20, though occasionally it will develop in children.


There are several tests that are generally done in order to get a positive dermatitis herpetiformis diagnosis. The first is a skin biopsy and then a direct immunofluorescence test of the skin. Some doctors also request a biopsy of the intestines. It is a lifelong illness but 10% to 20% of patience do see remission.


Dermatitis herpetiformis treatment generally begins with Dapsone which is an antibiotic. This is initially prescribed to get the rash under control. Patients are then advised to follow a strict gluten free diet. By carefully keeping to a gluten free diet, patients can eliminate the need for medications and reduce the risk of future complications and related illnesses. It is important to note that while a gluten free diet will help this disease tremendously, recovery is slow and it may take months of strict adherence before noticeable improvement is made.


By following the recommendations of your doctor and by using recommended treatments this disease is usually very well controlled. Patients who do not receive treatment or do not follow their prescribed treatment plan have a significant risk of intestinal cancer. Thyroid disease is also present in many people with this disease.


Current medical advice for the prevention of dermatitis herpetiformis is to avoid all foods that contain gluten. By keeping to a strict gluten free diet all symptoms can be avoided for the vast majority of people suffering from this disease.