Dermatitis Herpetiformis is a skin disease that is characterized as being somewhat variable in appearance, but is basically an extremely itchy rash made up of groups of red bumps and blisters. Though the exact cause of this skin condition is unknown, it is now often linked to a sensitivity to gluten present in the small intestine. This disease occasionally appears in children, but is most often seen in men and women who are over twenty years old.
For individuals who suffer from dermatitis herpetiformis or Duhring’s disease (as it used to be known), the rash experienced is very itchy. The rash tends to come and go intermittently and vary in it’s intensity. It is most likely to appear on the buttocks, elbows, knees, shoulders and back.
Since the condition is thought to be possibly caused by an allergic reaction or a sensitivity to gluten, which is a protein found in many grains and cereals, a gluten-free diet is one of the main components in treatment and future prevention. Additionally, the skin may be treated with topical creams, and an antibiotic called Dapsone has also been an effective way to help many patients.
In order to diagnosis dermatitis herpetiformis, a doctor will most likely perform a skin biopsy and direct immunofluorescence test of the skin. A doctor may also recommend a biopsy of the intestines to confirm the sensitivity and make sure there are no other issues.
While this disease usually responds well to treatment and a special diet, there are risk factors and complications associated with dermatitis herpetiformis. People with this condition may also exhibit signs of thyroid disease (an overactive or under-active thyroid gland) and individuals may have an increased risk of developing certain cancers of the intestines. There is no known cure for this condition and no known prevention.
For those who would like to find out more about dermatitis herpetiformis, there are some good resources available online. The United States National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health produce a website called “Medline Plus.” The medical encyclopedia page dedicated to dermatitis herpetiformis can be found online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001480.htm. This article provides a good overview of this disease, as well as symptoms and treatment. This page also has links to very good full color photos and images of this skin condition and what it actually looks like on the skin of someone who is affected.