Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) is less common than coeliac disease with a UK prevalence of about 1 in 3,300. DH can appear at any age, but is most commonly diagnosed in those aged between 50 and 69 years.
DH is managed by a gluten free diet and drug treatment may also be required. Once established on a gluten free diet it can often take several months before the rash improves and up to two years before it disappears completely. Both the skin disease and the intestinal disease return with the reintroduction of gluten to the diet.
Drugs, such as Dapsone (Diaminodiphenylsulfone), are important for managing DH. The skin symptoms in DH clear rapidly on treatment with Dapsone and can reappear rapidly if Dapsone is discontinued. Side effects of Dapsone include haemolytic anaemia, neuropathy, depression and headache.
Dapsone has no influence on intestinal abnormality. It is important to continue a gluten free diet alongside drug treatment.
We have information and practical advice for patients on dermatitis herpetiformis.