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Video:What Is Dermatitis Herpetiformis?

with Dr. Debra Jaliman

Dermatitis herpatiformis is a skin condition related to a gluten intolerance. Watch this About.com video to learn more about the symptoms and treatment for dermatitis herpetiformis.See Transcript

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Transcript:What Is Dermatitis Herpetiformis?

Hi this is Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City and author of the book "Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist" here for About.com to talk about dermatitis herpetiformis.

Symptoms of Dermatitis Herpetiformis

Dermatitis herpetiformis is not a common disease, but when it occurs, it's very annoying. It's very, very itchy and you get blisters pretty much all over the body: on the back, on the scalp, even on the face, on the chest, on the arms. They're so itchy, that many people, by the time they reach the doctor - the doctor only sees scratch marks because the blisters have been scratched off.

Diagnosing Dermatitis Herpetiformis

The way a diagnosis is made is by a skin biopsy. The doctor takes a needle, numbs up the skin and takes a tiny piece of skin and sends it to a laboratory. Under a microscope the diagnosis is made.

Dermatitis Herpetiformis and Gluten

When the diagnosis is made of dermatitis herpetiformis, we find that the person can't eat gluten, because it's a disease that is caused by gluten in the system. So when you take gluten out of the system, miraculously, for many people, the skin disease goes away.

Gluten-containing foods are pastas and breads and gluten can also occur in many other things, for example in soy sauce - so many things that you don't think would have gluten actually do. But fortunately there are many companies that make foods for people specifically who are gluten sensitive. So now they make crackers, breads, cookies and cakes for people that are gluten sensitive.

Treating Dermatitis Herpetiformis

For some people even removing the gluten isn't enough to get rid of the skin disease completely and they require internal medication. The internal medication that's used is something called colchicine. Colchicine is given internally, and usually the combination of a gluten-free diet and colchicine controls the dermatitis herpetiformis. The patient then has no itching, the skin bumps and blisters go away and the skin is totally clear.

If you have any other questions about dermatitis herpetiformis, go to About.com.

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