Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dermatitis Herpetiformis-Itchy, Scabby Elbows Can Be a Sign of Celiac

Dermatitis Herpetiformis is an autoimmune skin condition that is actually a type of celiac disease caused by a genetic sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology:
"The rash is caused when gluten in the diet combines with IgA, and together they enter the blood stream and circulate."
Interestingly, iodine is required for the reaction so avoiding iodized salt is recommended. If you have this kind of rash, you should see a doctor who understands celiac disease. More than 90% of patients with Dermatitis Herpetiformis also have gluten sensitive enteropathy which is celiac disease. I would also recommend getting a copy the book Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic by Dr. Peter Green.

If you have an undiagnosed, untreated autoimmune disease then you are more likely to get a second autoimmune disease so getting a diagnosis and treatment if you have this type of rash is important. The good news about having this itchy skin condition is that it goes away on a gluten free diet.


Q said...

Thank you so much for posting this photo on your blog. I found it through a google search and now plan to have a blood test ordered for my daughter. She's had 'skin crud' for weeks and it sure looks like many photos connected to secondary Celiac symptoms. Yikes!

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Anonymous said...


I'm so glad I found this blog post! A few months ago I started a gluten free diet, since nothing else was helping what I thought was psoriasis on my scalp. I looked up dermatitis herpetiformis on medical websites and saw descriptions of painful blisters. I had itchy, sometimes painful scabs several places. I guess I only noticed anything was wrong after I'd scratched myself enough to end up with scabs! I'm sure I have celiacs (based on a whole range of changes since going gluten free) but seeing other people describe DH as itchy scabs, not blisters!

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