Dermatitis Herpetiformis

The cause of a skin growth, rash or blemish isn’t always known by doctors or dermatologist. While some skin conditions are present at birth there are others that can develop as a person gets older and becomes exposed to more things.

Also known as Duhring’s disease, dermatitis herpetiformis is an uncommon disease that is characterized by a rash that is red and extremely itchy with small clusters of bumps and watery blisters. A burning or stinging sensation may also be felt around the area for some individuals. At times the itching can be unbearable and the urge to scratch can be overwhelming. However, scratching can lead to secondary infections so individuals should be careful. Eventually they will heal and form a scab that will eventually fall off. Even with treatments there is a strong possibility that new bumps and blisters will appear. The condition is often associated with individuals who have sensitivity to glutens. Glutens are a type of protein found in wheat, rye and barley products. It is not a contagious disease and can be referred to as Celiac Disease.

Who Can Get Them?

Individuals of Northern European descent seem to be affected. Both men and women can get it although it seem to be more common in men. After the age of twenty it will usually start although the ailment can affect children.

What Can Cause Them?

It is unknown exactly what causes dermatitis herpetiformis. Individuals who have a sensitivity to gluten type products are frequently associated with the condition. It helps to narrow down the types of treatments available once this is determined.

How Does It Happen?

It can be caused by a reactions to a protein found in cereals and other products known as gluten. When gluten from your food is combined with immunoglobulin A and they circulate in your blood stream a rash occurs. Eventually the small blood vessels of your skin are clogged up and a chemical called complements is released which creates the rash. Small bumps and blisters then appear. For the person with this skin disorder the rash can be very itchy and uncomfortable.

Where Do They Appear?

Typically it appears at the pressure points of the body such as the elbows, knees, scalp, back and buttocks. They can appear on both the front and back of an affected area. Other locations can be affected but the severity in each location can be different. After it clears up it can leave a brown spot.

What Are The Symptoms?

The symptoms of dermatitis herpetiformis include a particularly itchy red, rash that consist of bumps and blisters. The symptoms seem to get worse many times before they start to get better.

How Can It Be Diagnosed?

A skin biopsy and a immunfluorescence test is done by a doctor or dermatologist to diagnose dermatitis herpetiformis. A piece of the inflicted area is removed and examined under a microscope with a biopsy. Doctors use the technique immunofluorescence in order to label different antibodies with fluorescent dyes. A doctor may also refer individuals to a gastroenterologist to see if the intestines have a gluten problem. To confirm the diagnosis a blood test will be done.

What Treatments Are Available?

Without treatment the blisters and rash will go away. To help with the itching of the rash some ointments and creams are given. A drug called dapsone can be prescribed by a doctor which is an antibiotic that helps relieve the symptoms of this ailment with a day or two. There are some side effects to this drug so your doctor will watch for these. Treatment may need to continue throughout an individual’s life. Individuals may also have to be put on a gluten-free diet to control the disorder if gluten is found to be the cause.

Individuals should check themselves for skin growths, rashes and blemishes. Children should be checked by adults periodically as well. It is recommend that a doctor see you as soon as possible if anything appears since in cases like dermatitis herpetiformis there can be an underlying cause. Since it can lead to other illnesses if not treated properly this condition should be watched carefully.

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