Monday, May 12, 2014

Celiac Disease Awareness Month - May 12, 2014

Each day this month, I will be posting something about Celiac Disease.

Day 12:

Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH) is the skin manifestation of celiac disease. It is a rash that is a mixture of bumps and blisters that is due to the autoimmune reaction from the consumption of gluten.

Compared to the diagnosis process for celiac disease, the diagnosis process for DH is quite simple. A simple skin biopsy can be performed which will confirm the condition. The treatment is a strict gluten-free diet, which is the same as celiac disease. A skin ointment called Dapsone is also often prescribed to help with the rash.

Unfortunately, it seems there is even less awareness of DH by medical professionals. This could be due to the fact that only about 25% of those with celiac disease have it manifest as DH rather than with gastrointestinal symptoms. If you run the numbers, that means only about 1 in 400 people have DH.

I was incredibly disappointed to see the National Institute of Health's (NIH) website contained blatantly incorrect/outdated information concerning DH. One quote from their website:
There is no known prevention of this disease. People with this condition may be able to prevent complications by avoiding foods that contain gluten.
That information is at the very least misleading. It seems that when it comes to DH, the medical community would rather prescribe Dapsone to assist with the rash than advise their patients to consume a strict gluten-free diet which would mean no rash in the first place.

Do you know anyone with dermatitis herpetiformis? What is their story?

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