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Gluten rash and dermatitis herpetiformis treatments that work

Lana Bandoim's picture

If you are dealing with a gluten rash and dermatitis herpetiformis, then you should be aware of treatments that can provide relief. The itchy blisters and red skin do not have to be a permanent part of your life.


Have you noticed a red, burning or itchy rash on your skin? Do you see blisters or clusters of bumps around your knees, back or elbows? If you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, the rash may be dermatitis herpetiformis (DH). You should talk to your doctor to get the right diagnosis and consider the following treatment options.

Gluten rash and dermatitis herpetiformis treatments to consider

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) may affect 15 to 25 percent of those who have celiac disease. Itchy, red blisters or bumps characterize this gluten rash and tend to appear around the elbows, knees or back. However, you may also see the blisters on your scalp, arms or other parts of your body. You may want to consider the following treatments.

1. Strict adherence to the gluten-free diet

Researchers have found that strictly following the gluten-free diet is essential if you have celiac disease. The gluten-free diet may also help you deal with the gluten rash and dermatitis herpetiformis. It is important that you eliminate all gluten-containing foods such as wheat, barley and rye from your meals. Over the time, the rash should disappear and become less frequent.

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You may notice the rash return if you accidentally eat gluten or have cross-contamination with gluten in your kitchen. Some patients report that the blisters and bumps seem to be worse during periods of stress or other illnesses.

2. Dapsone medication

Dapsone is frequently prescribed as a gluten rash and dermatitis herpetiformis treatment. It is an antibacterial drug that is available as a tablet. Dapsone was originally created to treat leprosy, but today patients with celiac disease receive it to fight dermatitis herpetiformis.

Although patients report that dapsone reduces the itching and blisters, this drug has side effects you need to be aware of before you take it. Dapsone may cause hemolytic anemia and other problems such as blurred vision, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, fatigue, tingling or bruising. Although dapsone may help the rash, it cannot be used as a substitute for the gluten-free diet.

What to do about the gluten rash and dermatitis herpetiformis

If you notice that you have a gluten rash and suspect it may be dermatitis herpetiformis, then you should talk to your doctor. You may need additional tests to confirm the presence of dermatitis herpetiformis and celiac disease. If you already have an official celiac disease diagnosis, then the process of determining what is causing your rash may be faster.

The most important thing to remember is that a gluten-free diet is a crucial part of fighting the rash and blisters. Whether you are eating gluten by accident or through cross-contamination, you have to find the source and eliminate it.