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Dermatitis Herpetiformis

Gluten intolerance can attack any part of the body. That's why gluten intolerance or celiac syndrome can present in so many different ways and with so many different symptoms. When it attacks the skin, it causes Dermatitis Herpetiformis. The problem is that the skin can look like anything, which makes diagnosis even more of a challenge. The blood tests for celiac are positive only if there is significant damage to the gut. If there is no gut damage, then the blood tests for celiac are negative. Diagnosis becomes nearly impossible unless you are suspicious of it in the first place. You can get a final diagnosis by skin biopsy, but if the rash is that severe, would it really hurt to try a gluten-free diet for a month or two to see what happens?

Dermatitis Herpetiformis is usually horribly itchy and uncomfortable. Steroids, the common treatment for rashes that look like this, usually do little to alleviate the suffering. Here are pictures of a young man who suffered almost two years with a horrible lobster-like rash. The second picture is 6 months after starting a 100% gluten-free diet. He was VERY happy not to be scratching any more, although the rash had not yet completely healed. Yes, he did lose a lot of weight, partly because of stopping the steroids, and partly because he was afraid to eat anything if he wasn't absolutely certain it was gluten-free.

This young man will need to pay attention to foods and his body for the rest of his life. OK, so sometimes you want to be blissfully ignorant, eating what everybody else eats, doing what everybody else does. Sometimes a wake up call it a good thing. Being sick changes you. It can change you for the better if you let it.
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