Gluten Related Autoimmune Attack… It’s happening to me right now!


Presenting as a severely itchy, stinging, blistering, SYMMETRICAL rash.

This gluten causing rash is called DERMATITIS HERPETIFORMIS and is a manifestation of coeliac disease; otherwise known as the “gluten rash” or the “coeliac disease rash.”

The name, dermatitis Herpetiformis, is a descriptive name.  The rash is not related to either dermatitis or herpes, but a specific autoimmune skin condition.

Gluten Sensitivity

Gluten sensitivity is an immune reaction to the proteins found in wheat, barley and rye.  These grains have been identified as the main culprits.

When you have coeliac disease, your body responds to ingestion of this protein by mistakenly attacking your small intestine.

Although when you have Dermatitis Herpetiformis, your immune system attacks your skin as a result of gluten ingestion.

Why do I know this… because I have it right now!

Right now, writing this post I am 10 days into it.  Mine has broken out on the tops of my shoulders, shoulder blades, arms and back of my neck.  A near perfect mirror image on both sides and without a doubt the itchiest skin condition I have ever had.

Dermatitis Herpetiformis it’s one of the itchiest skin conditions you can experience!

What caused my Autoimmune attack?

Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I am a healthy eater and always try to avoid gluten.  I have always avoided gluten as I know it affects me negatively in many ways…

So how did this occur?

My gluten trigger for this autoimmune attack was Beer…

The weekend just gone we had friends and family come down to stay with us for the Bridgetown Blues Weekend… I drank Rogers wheat beer every evening for 3 days in a row and I knew I would suffer for it.

I new what I was doing and was totally prepared for some type of autoimmune reaction… well so I thought.

When I consume gluten, my usual symptoms are joint and muscle pain for a few weeks or some intestinal issues.  I sometimes also get a horrible jaw pain that feels like my teeth are about to fall out.  This has been the case for years.

But this time… I had no idea what was manifesting 

On the Monday I was feeling very average after the big weekend and I had one itchy lump appear on one arm; I just thought it was a bug bite.  By Wednesday all its friends were beginning to arrive.

Rash appearing on my upper arm
Gluten Rash
Blistering lump on my shoulder

At first, I didn’t know what it was and I spent a couple of days researching this itchy hell.  It wasn’t until the penny dropped that it was appearing symmetrically that I knew what it was.

Other accompanying triggers for developing Dermatitis Herpetiformis are high salt intake and excessive sun exposure to the point of burning; to which I had exposed myself to both over the weekend.

Along with the excessive gluten intake, I had placed myself into the perfect trifecta for a full-on auto-immune attack of my skin.

90% or more of those with Dermatitis Herpetiformis will have coeliac disease
ALTHOUGH, only about 25% of those with Coeliac Disease will manifest Dermatitis herpetiformis.

For those individuals who simply do not avoid gluten the rash might never go away.  For others it might come and go depending on your exposure to gluten; for them rashes tend to flare in the same location every time.

It’s like the worst mosquito bite you ever had x 100

I have 30 of these itchy lumps and not scratching takes a lot of willpower.   I learnt the hard way;  that the simple pleasure of scratching the itch for immediate relief takes you to another level of itch that you don’t want to go to…

So trust me.. as hard as it is, DON’T SCRATCH!

I certainly used up my yearly winge quota this week… my poor husband!  I simply couldn’t get rid of the itch, I smothered myself in all sorts of essential oils, lotions and potions.   I even buried my pride and went to the chemist and bought some calamine lotion (which was totally useless).

The first 5 days though were quite unbearable; I would wake in the middle of the night severely itchy and not be able to get back to sleep.

Heat sends them off the richter scale of itch factor; so, forget a warm or hot shower (cold water only).  Clothing rubbing on them irritates as well.  The only thing I found that relieved my itch was an ice pack, held directly on the spot.  I had to just sit there and keep moving it from spot to spot.

My rash has eased a little over the last couple of days; enough for me to now work and function.  Although the lumps are still all there and it’s still extremely itchy.

Severity of Dermatitis Herpetiformis

I am very lucky that my case is only mild in comparison to what others have experienced.  When Dermatitis Herpetiformis is severe, the lesions often are topped with clear, fluid-filled blisters that pop easily when scratched (and it’s pretty difficult not to scratch this itchy rash).

The liquid in those blisters contains white blood cells, which are drawn to the area as a result of the autoimmune attack on the skin.  Dermatitis Herpetiformis can form anywhere on your body, its most frequent locations include the elbows, knees, buttocks, lower back and the back of the neck.

The ONLY hope of placing this autoimmune condition into remission is complete avoidance of gluten… for ever.

Before this rash I used to think, its ok, I know what to expect and am prepared to suffer the consequences of a little gluten here and there.  But now, with this new manifestation… never again am I going to place myself in this compromised position.  I simply cannot go through this again.

No more gluten and most definitely NO MORE BEER for me.


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