What is Dermatitis Herpetiformis?

What is Dermatitis Herpetiformis?

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Dermatitis Herpetiformis

Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH) is a skin condition caused by an intolerance to gluten and is considered as the skin manifestation of coeliac disease. Dermatitis Herpetiformis is rare, affecting around 1 in 10,000 people, far less than coeliac disease. 



Symptoms of Dermatitis Herpetiformis include an itchy, red skin rash with small blisters. The rash tends to occur on the elbows, knees and buttocks.



Dermatitis herpetiformis is diagnosed via a skin biopsy, taken from an area with no rash.  People with a positive skin biopsy result should then be referred to a gut specialist (gastroenterologist) for a gut biopsy (the same test used to diagnose coeliac disease). During this time, it is important to continue to include gluten-containing foods in your diet to ensure an accurate result. Between 30-40% of people with dermatitis herpetiformis will also suffer from abdominal symptoms. The majority of people with dermatitis herpetiformis also have the same kind of gut damage as people with coeliac disease.



The treatment for Dermatitis Herpetiformis is to follow a strict gluten free diet.  Your doctor may also prescribe some steroid skin creams. The time it takes for symptoms to improve vary from person to person but skin symptoms tend to take longer to improve than the usual gut symptoms of coeliac disease.