Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Dermatitis Herpetiformis

The cause of dermatitis herpetiformis is a reaction to gluten that produces the immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibody. The antibody travels through the blood to the blood vessels under the skin and creates a rash.

Diagnosing dermatitis herpetiformis

A diagnosis of DH begins with a physical exam and discussion of your symptoms. Other tests may include:

  • Blood tests: Your blood sample will be analyzed for antibodies created by your body in response to eating gluten.  
  • Biopsy: A small sample of tissue may be taken and analyzed under a microscope for antibodies. A “punch” biopsy may be used to take a circular portion of skin and tissue next to the lesion. Fluorescent dye is used to identify the IgA antibody deposits that indicate sensitivity to gluten.

Diagnostic Tests


Related Resources

Celiac Disease Foundation*

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