Celiac Support Association

Dermatitis Herpetiformis Defined

What is Dermatitis Herpetiformis?

Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH) is a manifestation of celiac disease. It is celiac disease which shows up in the form of a skin rash. There is strong evidence that the changes in the intestinal mucosa and the immunologic findings in the majority of patients diagnosed with DH are identical with those found in celiac disease. Those with the skin form of celiac disease may or may not exhibit digestive symptoms. Gluten-free lifestyle is often enough to resolve DH. Dapsone may be prescribed to relieve symptoms and jump start the healing. The diet alone may take up to a year to resolve the skin symptoms. DH is often referred to as "celiac disease of the skin" while CD is referred to as "celiac disease of the gut." 

For more information read Dr. Russell P. Hall's article "Dermatitis Herpetiformis and Dietary Gluten: Illuminating a Gut-Skin Connection" published in the Lifeline Spring 2004 issue.

DH was formerly described in the literature as Duhring's Disease. It has a typical onset during the third or fourth decades of life. In the U.S. It may appear at any age after introduction of gluten based foods.  The presence of diagnosed cases is estimated to be about 1 in 10,000 with a male/female ratio of 2:1. It is more common in whites and rare in people of African or Asian descent.

DH on Arm and Legs

Dermatitis Herpetiformis 
on the Arm and Legs

For more illustrations and information, see Symptoms of Dermatitis Herpetiformis

Return to Dermatitis Herpetiformis

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