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Dermatitis Herpetiformis is a skin irritation that is associated with gluten?

It affects a large percentage of both men and women with Celiac disease and can be commonly misdiagnosed as eczema, acne, herpes and even psoriasis. A quick fix by your local GP might be an oral medication prescription for Dapsone, but a more successful long-term treatment of the condition is following a gluten-free diet.

The diagnosis and treatment of dermatitis herpetiformis involves various approaches aimed at managing symptoms, identifying the underlying cause, and promoting long-term relief.


  1. Clinical Examination: A dermatologist or healthcare professional examines the skin lesions and considers their characteristic appearance. DH typically presents as small, red bumps or blisters on the elbows, knees, buttocks, scalp, and back.
  2. Skin Biopsy: A small skin sample is taken from the edge of a blister or a normal-looking skin area adjacent to a lesion. This sample is examined under a microscope to detect the presence of specific antibodies called immunoglobulin A (IgA) deposits.
  3. Blood Tests: A blood sample may be taken to check for specific antibodies associated with celiac disease, including anti-tissue transglutaminase (tTG) and anti-endomysial (EMA) antibodies. Elevated levels of these antibodies can support the diagnosis of DH.
  4. Gluten Challenge: In some cases, a gluten challenge may be recommended, involving the consumption of gluten-containing foods for a certain period. This can help confirm the connection between gluten ingestion and the development of DH symptoms.


  1. Gluten-Free Diet: The primary treatment for dermatitis herpetiformis is adherence to a gluten-free diet. Eliminating all sources of gluten, such as wheat, barley, and rye, is essential to prevent the formation of skin lesions and manage the underlying celiac disease. Chef Beau’s Klean Kitchen is a 100% Gluten Free kitchen.
  2. Medications:
    • Dapsone: This oral medication is typically prescribed to control the symptoms of dermatitis herpetiformis. Dapsone helps reduce itching and the formation of new blisters. Close monitoring of blood counts and potential side effects is necessary during dapsone therapy.
    • Sulfapyridine: In some cases, sulfapyridine, often combined with sulfamethoxypyridazine, may be used as an alternative to dapsone.
    • Topical Medications: Corticosteroid creams or ointments can be applied topically to help alleviate itching and reduce inflammation.
  3. Follow-up Care: Regular follow-up appointments with a dermatologist or gastroenterologist are important to assess the response to treatment, monitor the skin lesions, and check for any underlying gastrointestinal symptoms associated with celiac disease.

It’s worth noting that the severity and duration of dermatitis herpetiformis can vary among individuals. The good news is that with adherence to a gluten-free diet and appropriate medication, most people with DH experience a significant improvement in symptoms.

Please reach out if you’d like additional info on how we can help you manage your GF diet with our weekly meal service.

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