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  • Scott Adams
    Scott Adams

    Dermatitis Herpetiformis Summary

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Dermatitis Herpetiformis Summary

    A dermatologist who is experienced at recognizing dermatitis herpetiformis should do the biopsy. The biopsy is taken of one of the blisters or the skin at the edge of the lesion. The biopsy should not be taken from the lesion, but from the edge or just near the lesion - it can be misdiagnosed as herpes if taken from the lesion. An iodine patch can be used to bring about a blister. If one has dermatitis herpetiformis, a blister will form; if not, one does not have dermatitis herpetiformis. A positive dermatitis herpetiformis biopsy will show IgA antibodies. The lab should be looking for IgA deposits in a granular line at a specific location in the skin. Some dermatologists use an immunofluorescence method of examination. dermatitis herpetiformis usually appears where pressure is applied to the body, but can appear anywhere. If the biopsy is not taken correctly you can get an incorrect negative. This is a positive method of diagnoses.


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    I am taking this article to my dermatologist with me, my 4 year old daughter has what I believe to be Dermatitis Herpetaformis and a count of 77 on her tTG. I am hoping that they can biopsy correctly. No one seems to take this seriously, unfortunately. Any great doctors in North Jersey?

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    Guest Thomas Niles Johnson

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    I am a fifty-seven year old male who has had symptoms of celiac disease since birth. When I was ten I began having symptoms of dermatitis herpetaformis but it wasn't until I was twenty-one and in the USAF that a service doctor diagnosed DH and prescribed Dapsone for it. The Dapsone was like a miracle for me at the time but I have now been on a gluten-free diet (thanks to my wife) for the last 25 years and I haven't taken Dapsone or had DH since. I have three children, one of whom shows signs of gluten intolerance. Thanks for the great website and all the good info. I wish there had been knowledge like this in 1960!

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    I am a fifty-seven year old male who has had symptoms of celiac disease since birth. When I was ten I began having symptoms of dermatitis herpetaformis but it wasn't until I was twenty-one and in the USAF that a service doctor diagnosed DH and prescribed Dapsone for it. The Dapsone was like a miracle for me at the time but I have now been on a gluten-free diet (thanks to my wife) for the last 25 years and I haven't taken Dapsone or had DH since. I have three children, one of whom shows signs of gluten intolerance. Thanks for the great website and all the good info. I wish there had been knowledge like this in 1960!

    What kind of gluten we should avoid and how? What do you eat mostly? Do we keep the skin moisturized or dry to avoid this skin problem to spread?

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    I was diagnosed with the herpes virus in 1999 when an enormous rash and blisters developed on the back of my thigh. The culture was taken directly from the blisters. I have since discovered I have celiac and do my best to avoid any gluten, but when I do, the lesions always appear. I have always thought it was a misdiagnosis but I couldn't find any documentation to back up my theory. Thank you for this post, I can take this to my doctor and have the lesions properly diagnosed.

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    I suffered from an extremely itchy rash for 3 months and after 4 biopsies by a deramtologist that said I had anything from scabies to drug reactions I finally switched dermatologists and did some research of my own. I found this site and references to dermatitis herpetiformis, so I printed all of the information and went to my PCP asking to be tested for celiac. The nurse practitioner there literally laughed at me and said I shouldn't be trying to diagnose myself. I then took the information to the new dermatologist and the PA laughed at me. I requested the physician to come look at my rash and he immediately said I think you have dermatitis herpetiformis. I started on dapsone two days ago and have seen a great improvement in my rash. Being proactive about my care is the ONLY thing that provided me with the answer I was looking for. If you feel you have dermatitis herpetiformis, I would definitely urge you to do your research and keep looking until you an find someone to listen to you!

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  • About Me

    Celiac.com's Founder and CEO, Scott was diagnosed with celiac disease  in 1994, and, due to the nearly total lack of information available at that time, was forced to become an expert on the disease in order to recover. Scott launched the site that later became Celiac.com in 1995 "To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives."  In 1998 he founded The Gluten-Free Mall which he sold in 2014. He is co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.

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