When I first heard the term “dermatitis herpetiformis” while the doctor was looking at my skin rash, I almost panicked. I have derma….. herpe….. what???!!! My first uninformed reaction was I had something caused by the herpes virus.
It just goes to show how lack of knowledge can create problems of its own. Despite the name, dermatitis herpetiformis is not caused by the herpes virus. It is caused by an allergy of the IgA system. The lining of the intestines emits the IgA antibodies in your body.
So how does gluten intolerance fit into this picture? Well, the doctor explained to me the IgA mixes with gluten proteins you get in food, creating a potent mixture just seeking to do the body harm. This IgA and protein mixture enters the blood stream and begins to do its dirty work. The mixture actually creates blockages (like mud in a pipe) in the small blood vessels.
When the blood vessels become blocked, the body in all its amazing ways tries to solve the problem. Your body is always working hard to maintain balance and stabilized systems. It sees blood vessels getting blocked, so the white blood cells accumulate and special chemicals are released. All this going on and you don’t even know it yet!
Finally, the battle is lost, and the overabundance of chemicals creates a skin rash. The skin rash is called dermatitis herpetiformis, and it can hurt! I know, because I’ve had it.
Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) is an extremely itchy rash that begins as tiny water blisters. Because of the itchiness, most people end up scratching like crazy and breaking the blisters. The skin becomes crusty and red and irritated because of the open sores from the rash.
The same rash happening on your skin can happen in your intestine or internal abdomen area. It’s called gluten-sensitive enteropathy or GSE or …… guess what …..Celiac disease! You can have dermatitis herpetiformis and Enteropathy. You can also have just dermatitis herpetiformis or just Enteropathy.
The most important thing I wanted to share with you was the fact the doctor said there are drugs that will clear up dermatitis herpetiformis in a matter of days. You can take the drug so you aren’t suffering from the skin rash while trying to prevent eating gluten. Once you eliminate the gluten protein, dermatitis herpetiformis often disappears on its own.
I had the awful stinging rash and was glad to get rid of it. If you have such a skin rash, and don’t know the cause, see your doctor and ask about the possibility you have a gluten intolerance or Celiac disease. If you have the skin rash and know you’re gluten intolerant, check out the food you’re eating because gluten is probably sneaking into your meals somehow.