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Is It True? Can A Dermatologist Test For Dh?

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I recently went to my first celiac disease support group meeting and when the discussion of DH came up I asked how you knew if you had it. (I haven't had any blatant symptoms, only ones that could possibly be DH but could be something else again too.) I was told by a member (a ten year diagnosed celiac disease) that a dermatologist could, in fact, test you to see if you had DH. We didn't get around to how since the subject changed but was wondering if anyone has been tested and if so, how they do it..blood work, skin biopsy, what?




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Well someone has to be more expert on this then me, but I've had an unexplained rash on my foot for years and after I found out I had to be gluten-free I did some research on DH. Yes your dermatologist can test for it and if I remember correctly oddly enough they take a small piece of healthy tissue (biopsy I guess) next to or near the DH skin problem.

I'm sure someone that has had this done can explain it better. My DH (I'm sure thats what it is) is not extensive and its looking somewhat better since I've been gluten free (since september 2004). So I'm hoping it will slowly disappear on its own with my gluten-free diet.



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That's a pretty good description according to what my dermatologist said. She also said that it is different than the usual biopsy in that it is time sensitive so they have to plan ahead a little more when they schedule it so that the lab gets it picked up more rapidly. Might want to keep that in mind when you make the appt and ask if that holds true at your doc . It may be an insurance issue with mine since I am required to use a specific lab in order for it to be covered.

I had DH for most of my life but we wrote it off as being extremely sensitive to an odd poison ivy outbreak or allergies. I would get "PI outbreaks" even in the winter. We thought I had just come into contact with it from summer gardening tools or a neighbor burning off their land, that sort of thing. Now that I know what it is and have had a DH outbreak and PI concurrently, I know that they even "itch" differently.

When I accidently get into some gluten, the outbreak begins with itchy, sensitive feeling skin. It gets kind of reddish and then up comes the rash. Usually the rash arrives within 24-48 hours after the initial symptoms, has what looks similar to pus pockets you might see with PI, an ant bite, or chicken pox though whiter, and "itches" intensely. My experience is that the "itch" is more like having a few hundred tiny needles tapping at you from under the much so that you just want to dig them out with your fingernails. After the initial outbreak begins to clear, they come and go for five or six months. They scab over and scar over, then break back open again off and on. They can leave discolored areas on the skin that can be cleared up with a lot of effort and Mederma or a similar product. Once you know what it is, you can sense an outbreak coming and recognize the differences between it and other problems. It takes a little experience, though.

Also, if you scratch much you can trigger a secondary infection that requires an antibiotic to clear it up. Keeping them moist seems to help. I use Clindagel and then keep it moist with a product containing petroleum jelly and some natural ingredients (camphor, methol, etc) to help ease the itch. Your dermatologist might have some different suggestions.

While the outbreaks I have read seem to be in a different location, mine often begin in my hairline, on my chin, and on my neck and shoulders. Sometimes they will also be on my arms, trunk, and legs. My daughter's usually arrive on her legs then "spread" to her arms and face. This spreading factor combined with the intense itchiness is what I think caused us to associate it the PI...not having a clue about DH at the time.

From what I have read and my own experience, it takes more than a year gluten-free for the rash to fully disappear. I was closer to a year and a half though I did see progress after a shorter period of time.

Hope this helps. The good news is that if it is associated with the celiac disease/DH problem, going gluten-free will eventually correct it. Don't be surprised it you have it a little worse initially upon going gluten-free. Ours did but got much better the longer I stayed gluten-free.


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