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Dermatitis Herpetiformis

This is a chronic but unusual disorder relating to skin characterized by rashes which are extremely scratchy and almost intolerable made of blisters and bumps that usually occur on the back, knees, elbows, shoulders and buttocks. It is also known as Durhing's disease. Coeliac disease, a complaint of the small intestine is often closely related to dermatitis herpetiformis.

Very obvious symptoms of this condition include strong burning, itching and stinging sensations in the affected areas. Skin biopsies and physical verification are the two commonly accepted methods which help in the diagnosis of dermatitis herpetiformis.

It is observed commonly that this disease affects young males, aged twenty and higher more. Researches done in this area gives a statistic such as about 11.2 people in the US out of every one lakh people and 10 people worldwide out of every one lakh people are suffering from this disease. Another notable fact is that young males of European descent suffer with this condition more. More particularly people who have a Scandinavian origin when compared to people of other cultural backgrounds.

Even though the precise  cause of this condition is yet to be unrevealed by man it is believed to occur as an allergy to a protein commonly found in wheat and other grains named gluten. When IgA, an antibody formed by the bowels reacts with gluten and enters the blood it blocks the small blood vessels in the skin. This attracts white blood cells and oozes chemicals which subsequently results in rashes.


Dapsone is an effective drug used to treat dermatitis herpetiformis. But, unfortunately this drug has side effects like haemolytic anaemia, a blood disorder. Hence, even though its usage is extremely useful for treating dermatitis herpetiformis, it should be taken only as advised by your physician. For those who are allergic to dapsone, available options are sulfapyridine and systemic steroids. Also, a diet free of gluten is suggested so that dapsone intake can be reduced in order to avoid its harmful side effects.


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