Here’s What You Need to Know About Dermatitis Herpetiformis or Gluten Rash

By      25-Jul 2020       Reading Time: 4 Mins

Here’s What You Need to Know About Dermatitis Herpetiformis or Gluten Rash

Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) is a type of skin problem and is generally described by itchiness, blistering, and skin rash which gives the sensation of burning. The problem is extremely painful and is a challenging ailment to live with. The rash and itching generally happen on the elbows, knees, scalp, back, and buttocks. The major reason for this type of rash is gluten intolerance, which further can also be connected with severe underlying problems. Those who are suffering from Dermatitis Herpetiformis should follow a stringent gluten-free diet.

Causes of dermatitis herpetiformis

This condition happens in people who are suffering from celiac disease. Celiac disease (also called celiac sprue, gluten intolerance, or gluten-sensitive enteropathy) is an autoimmune disorder that means a person’s body cannot in-tolerate gluten. Gluten is a type of protein which is found in wheat, rye, and barley.

According to the National Institutes of Health, “15 to 25 per cent of people with celiac disease have DH.” There are various symptoms of this condition like intense abdominal pain, constipation, nausea, and vomiting. There are no intestinal symptoms in this condition in many cases but a major number of people do have intestinal damage in dermatitis herpetiformis.

Symptoms of dermatitis herpetiformis

The rashes occurred in this condition are generally of a similar form on both sides of the body. You can feel burning and itching before the full rash. Bumps on the skin can also be noticed but these can easily be healed.

These symptoms are closely connected with the dermatitis herpetiformis but there are probabilities that these might also be linked with other skin conditions like atopic dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, psoriasis, pemphigoid, or scabies.

The symptoms include:

  • Raised sores
  • Sores that look like hives
  • Blisters
  • Fluid-filled sores

Dermatitis Herpetiformis is commonly found on: 

  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Lower back
  • Hairline
  • Back of the neck
  • Shoulders
  • Buttocks
  • Scalp

The insensitivity to gluten can also create destruction in your small intestine. This can hamper your digestive system. Here are some common symptoms of the same

  • Diarrhoea
  • Cramps
  • Bloating
  • Constipation

Treatment of Dermatitis Herpetiformis

This condition can be cured by consuming antibiotics like dapsone. This medicine is extremely effective in treating the condition but can also cause side effects, if not taken properly. Here is a list of side effects that can be caused by consuming dapsone.

  • Problems in the liver 
  • Sunlight problems
  • Anaemia
  • Weakness in muscles

One of the best and easy ways to cure dermatitis herpetiformis is consuming a diet that is free of gluten. Any food or beverages contain gluten should be strictly avoided while suffering from this condition. Completely eliminate the food items made from wheat, rye, barley and oats. Also, take care of the consumption of iodine as higher amounts of iodine in the body can also worsen the symptoms.


Dermatitis herpetiformis or gluten rash is a distressing condition and can further lead to various complications if not cured properly. Do consult a doctor if you feel the symptoms of the dermatitis herpetiformis.

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