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25-11-2010 | Article

Dermatitis herpetiformis remission can occur


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MedWire News: Dermatitis herpetiformis can go into remission, say researchers who advise clinicians to attempt to wean patients with well-controlled disease from a gluten-free diet and/or use of pharmacotherapy to determine if the condition has indeed remitted.

Dermatitis herpetiformis, also known as Duhring-Brocq disease, is a chronic skin blistering condition characterized by blisters filled with a watery fluid, and is associated with celiac disease.

Professor Stephen Katz and colleagues from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, studied 86 patients with dermatitis herpetiformis and found that the disease underwent remission in 10 (12%) of these patients.

Remission was defined as an absence of skin lesions and symptoms of dermatitis herpetiformis for more than 2 years while not taking sulfones or other therapies and not adhering to a gluten-free diet.

The researchers report in the Archives of Dermatology that patients who developed dermatitis herpetiformis when they were aged 39 years or older were more likely to experience remission than patients who developed the condition aged 8 to 38 years.

There was also evidence to suggest that patients had a higher probability of remission if the onset of dermatitis herpetiformis was between the years 1960 and 1972 compared with onset between 1935 and 1959.

"We can offer no good reason why year of onset of dermatitis herpetiformis also seemed to correlate with dermatitis herpetiformis remission," say the researchers.

There were no associations between dermatitis herpetiformis remission and gender, family history of skin disease, or symptoms of celiac disease.

"Results of this study show that dermatitis herpetiformis can go into remission. Therefore, clinicians should continually re-evaluate the need for medical therapy and a gluten-free diet for their patients with well-controlled dermatitis herpetiformis, with the idea that dermatitis herpetiformis might actually be in remission in some patients," Prof Katz and team conclude.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Lucy Piper