Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Answers.com Article: Dermatitis Herpetiformis—A Skin Rash Caused by Gluten Intolerance

The following is a preview of an article Dr. Miller wrote for Answers.com. Click here to read the full article.

Health problems that blame foods containing gluten are being heard of more frequently in the media lately. In fact, many foods now contain labels stating "gluten free." While many health issues are attributed to gluten sensitivity, there is a skin rash that can occur in some people with gluten intolerance called dermatitis herpetiformis.

What Is Dermatitis Herpetiformis?
Dermatitis herpetiformis is a blistering skin eruption that occurs characteristically on certain areas of the skin. The rash appears as tiny blisters or vesicles that are clustered together giving it the appearance of a herpes virus eruption, and hence the name dermatitis herpetiformis. However, dermatitis herpetiformis is not related or caused by herpes at all.

How Is Dermatitis Herpetiformis Caused By Gluten Intolerance?
In some people, ingestion of foods containing gluten stimulates an immune response by the body to attack the lining of the intestines. The lining of the intestines becomes damaged to the point where food and nutrients are not absorbed correctly and that can lead to symptoms of gaseousness, bloating and cramping. However, up to 40% of adults can have gluten intolerance and intestinal damage and not experience any gastrointestinal symptoms. The same immune response that attacks the lining of the intestines can also attack how the skin is attached to the body, causing the itchy small blisters to form on the skin.

How Is Dermatitis Herpetiformis Treated?
The treatment of dermatitis herpetiformis is to avoid foods that contain gluten. Several weeks after starting a gluten-free diet, people begin to see results. There is a medication called dapsone that can relieve the symptoms of itching on the skin until a gluten-free diet is maintained for several weeks to months. For some, even cheating on the gluten free diet for one meal will be enough to go into remission.  

For more information about Dermatitis Herpetiformis, click here to read the rest of Dr. Miller’s article. If you think you might have Dermatitis Herpetiformis, schedule an appointment with Greenville Dermatology today by calling (864) 242-5872.  

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