Dermatitis Herpetiformis – Pictures, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Are you suffering from itchy blisters on your body? Watch out, for you may be having a condition called Dermatitis Herpetiformis. Read on to know what is Dermatitis Herpetiformis, what causes it as well as its symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

Dermatitis Herpetiformis Definition

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Picture 1 – Dermatitis Herpetiformis
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This is a condition that leads to the development of itchy blisters and bumps on different parts of the body such as elbows, buttocks, knees and back. It is an autoimmune disease.

What Causes Dermatitis Herpetiformis?

Medical research suggests that in Dermatitis Herpetiformis wheat intolerance is the main cause. This disease is caused when gluten in the intestinal tract sticks to some antibodies and starts spreading in the bloodstream. As the gluten rises to the skin surface, burning and itching symptoms arise. Eventually, papules emerge over the skin. This indicates that this disorder is caused by the natural immune response of the body. In other words, it is an autoimmune disorder.

The word ““Herpetiformis” commonly leads to the misconception that the Herpes Virus, which causes skin ailments, is the cause of this disease. But the use of the term is not because of Herpes involvement. It is a reference to the fact that the blisters appearing in this disease appears similar to those arising in skin conditions. In Dermatitis Herpetiformis Herpes Virus has no role to play.

Dermatitis Herpetiformis and Gluten Intolerance

The disease is mainly caused by gluten sensitivity in the small bowel. It mainly develops in people who suffer from Celiac Disease, also known as Coeliac Disease. Celiac Disease is marked by the inability of the sufferer to endure gluten or wheat protein. In Dermatitis Herpetiformis Gluten Sensitivity is the main reason for the rise of all symptoms.

Dermatitis Herpetiformis Symptoms

Dermatitis Herpetiformis causes a number of discomforting symptoms such as


The disease is mainly characterized by extreme itchiness. In sufferers of Dermatitis Herpetiformis Gluten Allergy leads to development of papules and other symptoms like itchiness.


The development of rashes or blisters on the body is another prominent symptom of this condition. Dermatitis Herpetiformis gluten rashes are chronic which indicates that they remain on the skin surface for a long time. Usually, these rashes arise on different parts of the body and are of the same shape and size.

Generally, the blisters are seen to appear together in a cluster. These are white or pink in appearance and the surrounding skin becomes red in color.

Burning Feeling

Patients of this disorder also suffer from a burning sensation in the blisters that arise on their body. Scratching the papules can make them burst.

Loss of Weight

In Dermatitis Herpetiformis weight loss may also happen in a few cases. However, the drop in body weight is not immediately apparent. Usually, it is diagnosed after some time.

Dermatitis Herpetiformis Diagnosis

This disease is usually diagnosed by physical observation and skin biopsies. A dermatologist usually starts Dermatitis Herpetiformis testing by observing the skin condition and looking at the appearance of the blisters.

If physical observation is inadequate, skin biopsy involves taking a skin sample from the sufferer’s body for diagnosis. The aim of Dermatitis Herpetiformis Biopsy is to find out specific antibody deposits under the skin. Direct Immunofluorescence Test is also carried out on the skin for proper diagnosis. In some cases, intestinal biopsy is also carried out for detection.

Dermatitis Herpetiformis Differential Diagnosis

The differential diagnosis for Dermatitis Herpetiformis involves differentiating this disease from similar symptom-producing disorders like

  • Lupus Erythematosus
  • Linear IgA Bullous Dermatosis
  • Epidermolysis Bullosa Acquisita
  • Atopic Dermatitis
  • Bullous Pemphigoid
  • Eczema
  • Papular Urticaria
  • Contact Dermatitis
  • Insect Bite
  • Transient acantholytic dermatosis (Grover’s Disease)
  • Erythema Multiforme
  • Scabies

Dermatitis Herpetiformis Treatment

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Picture 2 – Dermatitis Herpetiformis Image
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Dermatitis Herpetiformis cure aims at reducing the symptoms such as the rashes as fast as possible. For curing sufferers of Dermatitis Herpetiformis Dapsone is used in most cases. This antibiotic drug is used to control outbreaks of Dermatitis Herpetiformis.


The medicines generally used for the treatment of this disease include antibiotic drugs like :

  • Dapsone
  • Sulphapyridine
  • Sulphamethoxypyridazine

All these drugs have been in use for about a century and they are quite effective in controlling the blisters within a few days. Early discontinuation of treatment can make the symptoms recur.

Natural Treatment

It’s natural remedy involves :

Gluten-Free Diet

A diet strictly free from gluten components can help cure this condition. As this disorder is caused by Gluten sensitivity, non-consumption of wheat protein can control the symptoms very fast. Sticking to a non-gluten diet for at least six weeks helps clear up symptoms in many cases. It can make use of medications unnecessary and help patients prevent future complications.

Avoid Dairy Products

Milk and other dairy products can sometimes lead to skin rashes. You may try avoiding dairy products if medications and other remedies fail to work. Milk is often regarded to be one of the Dermatitis Herpetiformis triggers.


Soothing baths can also help sufferers get temporary relief from itchiness and burning symptoms in Dermatitis Herpetiformis lesions.

Cut Raw Eggs from Diet

Raw eggs comprise of a protein called Avidin that binds Biotin and avoids it from getting absorbed. Biotin is a B vitamin that helps in growth of the body and is associated with scalp and skin diseases.

Is Dermatitis Herpetiformis Genetic?

Recent medical studies indicate that this disease can be a result of genetic factors. Some people are said to be born with a genetic predisposition towards disorders like Dermatitis Herpetiformis and Celiac Disease. People with sufferers of this disease in their family can also develop this condition in future.

Researchers at the University of Finland have recently associated a gene known as Myosin IXB with the appearance of skin disorders like Dermatitis Herpetiformis.

Blood Test

Occasionally, blood tests are also conducted to diagnose this disease. The aim of blood examination is to detect the presence of tissue transglutaminase and anti-endomysial antibodies in the bloodstream. The presence of these abnormal antibodies in blood usually indicates this disease. In some cases, the blood tests can be negative.

Dermatitis Herpetiformis Home Remedies

Dermatitis Herpetiformis home treatment involve :

Applying Goldenseal Powder

Mix powdered goldenseal root with a small amount of honey and Vitamin E oil. Apply this paste over the affected area for at least two times daily. Goldenseal powder helps the rashes heal and reduces dryness and itchiness of the skin.

Drinking Dandelion Tea

Drink tea made from powdered and dried roots of Dandelion herb. This herb provides essential minerals and vitamins to the skin and helps reduce the symptoms.

Applying Aloe Vera Gel

Apply over the blisters some fresh Aloe Vera gel. Aloe Vera is effective in reducing even severe cases of itching and irritation.

Therapeutic Oils

Add a few Lavender Oil drops into a bowl of vegetable oil. Warm this mixture and apply it softly on your scalp if you are having Dermatitis Herpetiformis blisters there. These oils have therapeutic properties and helps soothe itchiness and other discomforting skin disorder symptoms. Leave the mixture on your scalp overnight and wash it away in the morning with a soft shampoo.


Dermatitis Herpetiformis patients are often found to suffer from Thyroid disease. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), this disease may lead to intestinal cancers. In rare cases, sufferers may also be detected with lymphoma of the intestine. This condition may also give rise to complications that Celiac disease patients develop such as some kinds of Gut Cancer and Osteoporosis.

In case of Dermatitis Herpetiformis diet free from gluten can help sufferers avoid most complications.


Complete Dermatitis Herpetiformis relief may take a few weeks. However, effective antibiotic treatment and a gluten free diet can reduce the symptoms within a few days. Dapsone is effective in clearing up rashes within days.

In Dermatitis Herpetiformis gluten free diet alone can reduce symptoms more effectively and permanently than medicines. However, this is good for long term treatment. It may take about a year for results to show up.

Ulcerative Colitis

In rare cases, Dermatitis Herpetiformis may be associated with Chronic Ulcerative Colitis. Ulcerative Colitis is a severe, persistent inflammatory disorder that affects the rectum and the large intestine. The condition is marked by recurring episodes of fever, chills, severe diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Dermatitis Herpetiformis & Psoriasis Difference

Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH) is often confused with Psoriasis, a chronic skin condition. However, both conditions are different in nature. DH is typically marked by the appearance of itchy blisters on the knee, elbows, back and buttocks. But Psoriasis is characterized by the formation of thick and elevated dry patches over the skin surface.

Hair Loss

Dermatitis Herpetiformis can also result in Alopecia, a disease that leads to baldness from loss of hair. It is not clear how this condition is associated to Alopecia. However, patients of DH have been found to suffer from hair loss at times.

Is Dermatitis Herpetiformis Contagious?

Dermatitis Herpetiformis is not a contagious condition. It is believed to be a result of Gluten intolerance and hereditary factors. As seen from DH patients, blisters caused by this disease cannot be transmitted to any other person.

Dermatitis Herpetiformis Pictures

Want to check whether the rashes on your body are Dermatitis Herpetiformis blisters? Here are some Dermatitis Herpetiformis photos that will help you compare your rashes. Check out these Dermatitis Herpetiformis images and know what does Dermatitis Herpetiformis look like.

Dermatitis Herpetiformis PhotoImages of Dermatitis Herpetiformis
Picture 3 – Dermatitis Herpetiformis Photo Picture 4 – Dermatitis Herpetiformis
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Dermatitis Herpetiformis Pictureimages of Dermatitis Herpetiformis
Picture 5 – Dermatitis Herpetiformis Picture 6 – Dermatitis Herpetiformis Image
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Dermatitis Herpetiformis is a curable condition and is usually self-limiting, that is it goes away on its own. If you or anyone in your family is having blisters similar to Dermatitis Herpetiformis skin lesions, it is time that you go to a dermatologist for immediate diagnosis. Early medical treatment can help you recover faster from this condition.


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