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  • Scott Adams
    Scott Adams

    The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America on Iodine and Dermatitis Herpetiformis


    The the connection between iodine and Dermatitis Herpetiformis is briefly described by the following excerpt from a resource guide of the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America:

    • Iodine can trigger eruptions in some people (with dermatitis herpetiformis). However, iodine is a essential nutrient and should not be removed from the diet without a physicians supervision.
    • Iodine does not contain gluten. Iodine can worsen the symptoms of skin lesions in patients with dermatitis herpetiformis.
    • When the deposits of IgA have been cleared from the skin over time by following a gluten free diet, iodine should no longer present any problem for dermatitis herpetiformis patients.

    As background, for those who are not familiar with Dermatitis Herpetiformis, the following description comes from a resource guide of the Gluten Intolerance Group of North America:

    • Dermatitis herpetiformis (dermatitis herpetiformis) is a chronic disease of the skin marked by groups of watery, itch blisters. The ingestion of gluten (the proteins gliadin and prolamines contained in wheat, rye, oats, and barley) triggers an immune system response that deposits a substance, IgA (immonuglobin A), under the top layer of skin. IgA is present in affected as well as unaffected skin. dermatitis herpetiformis is a hereditary autoimmune disease linked with celiac disease. If you have dermatitis herpetiformis, you always have celiac disease. With dermatitis herpetiformis the primary lesion is on the skin rather than the small intestine. The degree of damage to the small intestine is often less severe or more patchy then those with only celiac disease. Both diseases are permanent and symptoms/ damage will occur after comsuming gluten.

    When my husband was diagnosed with dermatitis herpetiformis last November, he went to visit a expert in dermatitis herpetiformis, Dr. John J. Zone, at the University of Utah (USA). The written instructions Dr. Zone gave him included the following statement:

    • The mineral iodine is known to make the disease (dermatitis herpetiformis) worse. For this reason, foods and supplements high in iodine should be avoided. Table salt which is not iodized should be used. This can be found in most grocery stores with the other salts. Avoid kelp and other seaweed products, and do not use sea salt. If you take any nutritional supplements, examine them carefully to avoid any iodine containing ingredients.

    It is not necessary for dermatitis herpetiformis patients to eliminate iodine completely from their diet, merely to avoid foods high in iodine as described above. Dr. Zone also explained that dermatitis herpetiformis patients need not avoid iodine indefinitely. Iodine is an important mineral for our bodies. dermatitis herpetiformis patients can stop avoiding iodine when their rash symptoms clear up which can take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years on a gluten-free diet.

    More about iodine:

    • Intake of large amounts of inorgana iodide is known to exacerbate symptoms and a few patients have been reported to improve on low iodide diets. However, this is not a mainstay of treatment and need only be considered if patients are consuming excessive iodide in the form of vitamin pills, kelp, or seafood. Likewise, some patients have reported exacerbation with thyroid hormone replacement therapy and thyrotoxicosis. In such cases, excessive thyroid replacement should be avoided and thyrotoxicosis treated appropriately.
    • Dermatitis Herpetiformis, John J. Zone MD, Curr Probl Dermatol, Jan/Feb 1991, p36
    • Dermatitis Herpetiformis is considered a rare skin disease.
    • The true incidence and prevalence of dermatitis herpetiformis appears to vary in different areas of the world and may vary within the same country. During 1987, 158 cases of documented dermatitis herpetiformis were identified in the state of Utah out of a population of 1.6 million, a prevalence of 9.8 per 100,000.
    • Dermatitis Herpetiformis, John J. Zone MD, Curr Probl Dermatol, Jan/Feb 1991, p15

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    I was diagnosed with celiac disease 4 years ago after being really sick for about 6 years. I have DH as well. It was tons of fun trying to figure out what that was. I have had it under control, but occasionally I will have an outbreak. Potato chips seem to be a big culprit. I found that benedryl at night helps the itching and with sleeping. It seems to lessen the length of the outbreak. Also, watch ALL hair products. I was losing handfuls a day until I looked at my mousse. Hydrolized wheat protein was one of the first ingredients.

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    Hey guys.

    Great article, and very informative.

    Recently I found out I'm mildly allergic to iodine.

    I like working out and have a few supplements that do have iodine. Now I now ask this, is there any type of ingredient or item that will help counter the iodine allergic reaction?

    I just bought a whole tub, I want to know if there is a possibility it can be saved.

    Thanks for reading, and will greatly appreciate for any responses.

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    I have a very itchy rash that is all over my body. Everything I read says its is a hereditary autoimmune disease linked with celiac disease. No one in my family has either, my blood tests came back normal and my dermatologist wont do a skin biopsy. How do I know I really have this disease? I have never been sick or have any other issues. How do I find an expert in Colorado?

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    Thank you so much for this information. My inability to clear up the DH rash for over 3 years on a gluten free diet has been so frustrating. One question I have never seen answered is whether there is a treatment or topical product which will calm the intense inching? Any information on palliative treatment would certainly be very welcome.

    I take Dapsone for the DH... it works well...

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    I have DH and react to iodine after exposure to gluten. We use un-iodized table salt in our home, and it is my understanding that the use of iodine in salt for processed food is voluntary, so very few processors add it. Food products from animals are likely to contain some iodine from their feed, and most commercially baked breads have iodine added. We live in Hawaii, so I generally avoid locally grown fruits and veggies because of the high iodine count. BUT, if I haven't had exposure to gluten, iodine is not a problem. Interesting sidebar: prior to being diagnosed, I had no intestinal issues that I was aware of. My symptoms were confined to rash and inflammation in various body systems. Since adhering to a gluten-free diet, my digestive system has begun to react severely to the ingestion of gluten. My intestines must swell completely shut, because within 30 minutes vomiting begins. It continues until I'm depleted & throwing up bile (about 2 hours of hell). The good thing is that I'm in no way tempted to cheat on my diet, so other than an occasional mistake, and my recent attempt to eat "certified gluten-free oats" I've been virtually rash free for many years. Hope this info is helpful to someone!

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    Follow up - upon reviewing the foods I recently eliminated in going on a low iodine diet (which makes a big difference) I think the dairy products, i.e., milk, cheese, and in particular Weight Watchers fudge bars and Wendy's Frosties which have carregeenen - an iodine rich food thickener could be the smoking gun.

    Yea, dairy products IS the smoking gun, since iodine is added into the food concentrate given to feed cows and chicken, dairy products contains often large amounts of iodine. Having DH and still IgA rest inside your skin you should get clear of dairy products and products containing dairy products, just like chocolate and other mixed products.

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    Thank you so much for this information. My inability to clear up the DH rash for over 3 years on a gluten free diet has been so frustrating. One question I have never seen answered is whether there is a treatment or topical product which will calm the intense inching? Any information on palliative treatment would certainly be very welcome.

    I have been using PanAway oil from Gary Young Living Oils; you need to coat your skin with olive oil/ or aloe vera oil and then apply the PanAway oil. I suffered so much from the crazy itch, and when I tried the PanAway - it worked. It burns a little, but the burning is better than the intense itchy that was driving me crazy. I haven't been diagnosed with anything yet, but I believe I have dermatitis herpetiformis, which is from eating gluten, plus the iodized salt was making the itching worse. I am finally, after three years, getting better. Thank God; I thought I was going crazy from lack of sleep.

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    Reading this makes me think the thyroid support supplement I take is preventing the DH from healing. I am doing the SCDiet for celiac and think it is helping my esophagitis and hopefully gastritis.

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    Really interesting article and comments too.

     

    I've suffered from colitis, a host of food intolerances, skin complaints including DH (which I'm not rid of yet) and all the associated ailments that come with auto-immune disease like aches, low energy, dislike of the cold etc.

     

    I don't mean to dissect what's already been written above and by the author but my thinking was that iodine is acting as a chelate and helping your body to detox. Therefore my take would be that we have to go through a certain amount of pain i.e. experiencing exacerbated symptoms before ridding our bodies of toxins and ultimately getting better.

     

    IMHO it's about being gentle with any detox so that as individuals we can find a comfortable sweet spot that allows us to detox without being driven to distraction, not an easy balance to achieve but ultimately very rewarding.

     

    I'm still on this journey but I'm following my instinct and experiencing significant health improvements to the point that I've almost forgotten about my colitis and I'm now focusing on improving my skin as I see this as a window to my health. This is all with a diet that is mostly pescetarian, gluten, nut and dairy free to minimize inflammation in my body.

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    I never heard about iodine before and now I will talk to my doctor about it. Thanks !!!

    If your doctor didn't talk to you about it in the first place, you should change your doctor!

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    I had self diagnosed a problem with gluten for a couple of years but then decided to go vegan and felt awesome--so reintroduced gluten--bread, pasta, pizza, tortillas...I was in heaven--until I wasn't. I got depressed, I got anxiety, I got psychotic, no one believed me when I told them it felt like I had bugs crawling on me, itching, biting and stinging--I thought I had Morgellons (which isn't really a disease but undiagnosed DH) I would sit for days trying to figure out what it was-- then one day I didn't have it--no feeling on my skin at all then the next day it was back. It wasn't gluten I had been gluten free only eating chicken with salt....THE SALT! Once I changed salts it was less and less each day. Because I didn't give up and searched and thought I figured it out--thank God!

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  • About Me

    In 1994 I was diagnosed with celiac disease, which led me to create Celiac.com in 1995. I created this site for a single purpose: To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives. Celiac.com was the first site on the Internet dedicated solely to celiac disease. In 1998 I founded The Gluten-Free Mall, Your Special Diet Superstore!, and I am the co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.

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