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Dermatitis Herpetiformis Symptoms & Testing

Symptoms of Dermatitis HerpetiformisAn up-close photo of the dermatitis herpetiformis rash.

Dermatitis herpetiformis symptoms include extremely itchy skin and blisters or lesions.

DH can appear anywhere on the body. However, it most frequently presents in the following areas:

  • Buttocks
  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Lower back
  • Scalp

Dental defects can also be a symptom of DH. Only about 20 percent of people with DH will experience intestinal symptoms.

Diagnosing Dermatitis Herpetiformis

Doctors diagnose dermatitis herpetiformis by examining the cells under the top layer of skin, known as the dermal papillae, for neutrophils and granular IgA deposits in the skin. In order to do this, they will take a biopsy of your skin and perform a routine staining on it.

DH can be misdiagnosed and is often confused with skin conditions such as allergies, bug or mosquito bites, contact dermatitis, diabetic pruritus, eczema, herpes, hives and psoriasis.

In 2021, the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology compiled guidelines to support dermatologists in diagnosis and treatment of DH and improve the quality of management for patients. Learn more.

Dermatitis Herpetiformis Remission

DH has been known, in some cases, to go into remission, whether or not patients are adhering to a gluten-free diet. Research indicates that DH remission is both spontaneous and only experienced in a very small percentage of patients (about 12%). However, patients diagnosed with DH should NOT abandon a gluten-free diet at any time, regardless of apparent remission.

Suspect Dermatitis Herpetiformis?

Do you or a family member suspect dermatitis herpetiformis? You may have celiac disease. Find out now: take our Celiac Disease Symptoms Checklist and reach out to your doctor.

Think you may have celiac disease?

Symptoms Checklist