A 5-year+ problem – Gluten and skin diseases 2

May 12, 2009

Continuing my previous post about the relation gluten – skin disease – celiac

During the year he was exchange student in Germany, Eric ate a lot of bread and pastry. Shortly after he returned to Australia, he developed a small purple blister on his right buttock.

Within a year, the rash grew to include his other buttock and each of his knees and elbows.

The diagnosis his doctor made: a strange case of poison ivy, which he treated with prednisolone, a corticosteroid that can have serious side effects, such as upset stomach, stomach irritation, vomiting, headache, dizziness, insomnia, restlessness, depression, anxiety, acne, increased hair growth, aesy bruising, swollen face and ankles, vision problems ad muscle weakness.

After another year of unrelenting itching and pain and the spreading of the rash, which did not respond to the cream, Eric went to another doctor, who said he had a rare form of pustular psoriasis. The remedy-another type of topical corticosteroid cream.

He used the cream for 5 years, yet the rash continued to spread, and he developed a secondary staphylococcal (or bacterial) infection. Eric finally found a doctor who was able to diagnose the problem correctly –dermatitis herpetiformis. A gluten-free diet cleared up the condition.

According to the first doctor Bill consulted, the rash that began to plague him was shingles.

Shingles (herpes zoster) is characterised by an outbreak of a rash or blisters on the skin caused by a virus – the same virus that causes chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus.

Anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk of getting shingles, which is described as being intense and unrelenting.

The symptoms of shingles can be relieved, at least temporarily, by taking antiviral drugs, but the disease must run its course, usually 3 to 5weeks. The virus continues to be harboured in the body even after the condition has cleared up.

Bill didn’t have shingles, so the doctor’s prescription did him no good and the rash persisted. He then went to a dermatologist, who told him he had scabies!

Scabies is caused by a tiny mite that burrows under the skin and causes severe itching. The effective cure for scabies is a topical insecticide cream, which the doctor prescribed. Of course, the lotion didn’t work.

Bill consulted several different doctors over the course of months. More than one gave him the same scabies diagnosis. Frustrated, he finally returned to his original dermatologist, who this time did a biopsy and discovered that Bill didn’t have scabies after all.

He had dermatitis herpetiformis. He started a gluten-free diet, and his skin condition went away in 6 weeks time.

Best Regards
Paul Smith

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