Eczema and dermatitis herpetiformis are both chronic skin conditions. Eczema arises in response to various allergies, whereas dermatitis herpetiformis occurs because of a severe gluten intolerance.
This section provides a brief overview of both conditions.
Dermatitis herpetiformis is a chronic autoimmune condition that affects
Eczema and dermatitis herpetiformis have a few common symptoms. However, overall, the conditions present rather differently.
Some of the main symptoms of dermatitis herpetiformis
- redness, in light skin
- extremely itchy skin
- raised skin
- skin lesions due to picking at the skin
- red or purple spots on the palms or soles
Healthcare professionals characterize dermatitis herpetiformis by the specific areas of the skin that it typically affects. The rash often forms on skin surfaces that exist outside of a joint. Some common sites of dermatitis herpetiformis include:
Some people with dermatitis herpetiformis also experience dental problems, such as enamel pits.
Eczema has various possible symptoms, which
- a rash
- itchy skin
- raised skin
- thick skin
As a paper in the
These symptoms are less common in people with dark skin, who are more likely to experience papules, skin thickening, and changes in skin pigmentation.
The causes of eczema and dermatitis herpetiformis also differ.
Researchers have not determined the exact cause of dermatitis herpetiformis. However, there is evidence that genetics play an important role. Some genetic mutations make it harder for the body to process gluten.
- certain genetic mutations
- inflammation associated with immune system responses to various triggers
- low production of skin barrier proteins
- high humidity
- high heat
- dust mites
- certain foods, such as fish, soy, and milk
- some chemicals and irritants, including soaps
- some fabrics, such as acrylic and wool
Eczema flare-ups may also arise for no apparent reason.
Doctors treat eczema and dermatitis herpetiformis in different ways.
According to research, a gluten-free diet is
However, it is important to note that the symptoms may persist for some years, even with a strict gluten-free diet. During this time, doctors may recommend medications to help manage the symptoms. A common drug is dapsone (Aczone), which individuals with dermatitis herpetiformis may take once a day following a doctor’s advice.
Eczema is an incurable condition. However, researchers have found that people
- identifying and avoiding eczema triggers, which reduces the likelihood of flare-ups
- topical anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the severity of eczema flare-ups
- other medications, including oral Janus kinase inhibitors and biologics, such as dupilumab (Dupixent) and tralokinumab-ldrm (Adbry)
- using a fragrance-free moisturizer to hydrate the skin daily
A healthcare professional may also recommend different medications and treatments depending on the severity of a person’s eczema.
Effective treatment requires an accurate diagnosis. Anyone with symptoms of dermatitis herpetiformis or eczema should seek a doctor’s advice.
A gluten-free diet is
If a gluten-free diet is not effective, a healthcare professional
Research has shown that eczema is a
As eczema damages the skin, people with this condition are more likely to develop skin infections. In rare cases, some of these infections can be serious. For instance, eczema herpeticum and eczema cosackium infections are potentially life threatening.
Below are answers to some of the most common questions about dermatitis herpetiformis and eczema.
Does dermatitis herpetiformis look like eczema?
They can look similar. For example, both conditions can cause red or discolored patches and raised skin.
Is eczema a symptom of celiac disease?
No, eczema is not a symptom of celiac disease. Dermatitis herpetiformis, which is similar to eczema, is a
How long does it take for dermatitis herpetiformis to clear up?
With a gluten-free diet, dermatitis herpetiformis
Dermatitis herpetiformis and eczema are chronic skin conditions that can cause itchy skin. However, whereas eczema can arise in response to several triggering factors, dermatitis herpetiformis is always due to gluten hypersensitivity.
A person should speak with a doctor if they think that they may have eczema or dermatitis herpetiformis. The doctor can make an accurate diagnosis and recommend an appropriate treatment plan.