Author: A/Prof Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand. 2001.
Gluten enteropathy, commonly called coeliac disease, affects the majority of children and adults with dermatitis herpetiformis. It is characterised by small bowel villous atrophy. This means that instead of being highly convoluted, the lining of the intestines is smooth and flattened. The result is poor or very poor absorption of nutrients. The patient may feel well or develop the following symptoms:
The range of conditions less commonly induced by gluten also includes:
Patients with gluten enteropathy or coeliac disease sometimes suffer from other autoimmune conditions possibly associated with gluten intolerance. These include insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, thyroiditis, autoimmune hepatitis, Sjögren syndrome, Addison disease, atrophic gastritis, alopecia areata, vitiligo, and urticaria.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, affecting the intestines or any part of the body, is a serious complication of gluten enteropathy but is fortunately rare, affecting less than 1% of patients.
For further information about testing and treatment, see DermNet's page on dermatitis herpetiformis.
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