If you are diagnosed with dermatitis herpetiformis, you have a form of celiac disease, but your small intestine may not receive the damage. Where celiac disease damages the small intestine, dermatitis herpetiformis wreaks havoc with the skin. Characterized by a severe skin rash that is extremely itchy, dermatitis herpetiformis is distinguished from other rashes with its own brand of blisters and lesions often produced by the incessant scratching of the sufferer. The rash can occur anywhere on the body, but is most found on extremities like the elbows and knees. The condition is diagnosed through a skin biopsy using a sample from right next to a lesion, but not directly from the lesion itself.
As with celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis is an autoimmune disorder that erupts with the ingestion of gluten; even the smallest trace can produce a severe reaction in extremely sensitive individuals. Those with dermatitis herpetiformis are also more prone to bone disease, as well as the same host of autoimmune disorders that individuals with celiac disease can be predisposed to developing. While dermatitis herpetiformis results in extreme skin irritation, it is also possible to experience intestinal wall damage, a two-fold assault on the body.