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Disease Profile

Dermatitis herpetiformis

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.

1-5 / 10 000

US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset

All ages





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

Duhring Brocq disease; Brocq-Duhring disease ; Duhring's disease;


Skin Diseases


Dermatitis herpetiformis is a rare, chronic, skin disorder characterized by groups of severely itchy blisters and raised skin lesions. These are more common on the knees, elbows, buttocks and shoulder blades. The slow onset of symptoms usually begins during adulthood, but children can also be affected. Other symptoms may include fluid-filled sores; red lesions that resemble hives; and itchiness, redness and burning. The exact cause of this disease is not known, but it is frequently associated with the inability to digest gluten. People with this disease are typically treated with the drug dapsone.[1][2]


This table lists symptoms that people with this disease may have. For most diseases, symptoms will vary from person to person. People with the same disease may not have all the symptoms listed. This information comes from a database called the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) . The HPO collects information on symptoms that have been described in medical resources. The HPO is updated regularly. Use the HPO ID to access more in-depth information about a symptom.

Medical Terms Other Names
Learn More:
80%-99% of people have these symptoms
Abnormal blistering of the skin
Blistering, generalized

[ more ]

Autoimmune disease
Autoimmune disorder

[ more ]

Flat, discolored area of skin
Intestinal malabsorption
Microcytic anemia
Itchy skin
Skin itching

[ more ]

Recurrent fractures
Increased fracture rate
Increased fractures
Multiple fractures
Multiple spontaneous fractures
Varying degree of multiple fractures

[ more ]

Skin vesicle
30%-79% of people have these symptoms
5%-29% of people have these symptoms
Bone pain
Fluid retention
Water retention

[ more ]

Percent of people who have these symptoms is not available through HPO
Autosomal dominant inheritance


The antibiotic dapsone is extremely effective in treating this condition.[2] Symptomatic improvement may occur in as little as several hours after the first dose.[3] However, dapsone may cause serious side effects and requires regular monitoring by a physician. When this medication is used to relieve the symptoms of dermatitis herpetiformis, it should be taken in the smallest effective dose and for the shortest period possible.[4] In some cases, immunosuppressive medications may be used. These medications do not appear to be as effective.[2] A strict gluten-free diet is also recommended to help control the disease. Following this diet may eliminate the need for medications and prevent later complications.[2][3]

Learn more

These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

Where to Start

  • MedlinePlus was designed by the National Library of Medicine to help you research your health questions, and it provides more information about this topic.
  • The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NIDDK) offers information on this condition. Click on the link to view information on this topic.
  • The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) has a report for patients and families about this condition. NORD is a patient advocacy organization for individuals with rare diseases and the organizations that serve them.

In-Depth Information

  • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
  • MeSH® (Medical Subject Headings) is a terminology tool used by the National Library of Medicine. Click on the link to view information on this topic.
  • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
  • Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) is a catalog of human genes and genetic disorders. Each entry has a summary of related medical articles. It is meant for health care professionals and researchers. OMIM is maintained by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 
  • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.
  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Dermatitis herpetiformis . Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


  1. Dermititis Herpetiformis. NORD. 2005; https://www.rarediseases.org/rare-disease-information/rare-diseases/byID/208/viewAbstract. Accessed 10/29/2014.
  2. Berman K, Zieve D. Dermatitis herpetiformis. MedlinePlus. May 15, 2013; https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001480.htm. Accessed 10/29/2014.
  3. Miller JL. Dermititis Herpetiformia Treatment & Management. Medscape Reference. June 12, 2014; https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1062640-treatment#showall. Accessed 10/29/2014.
  4. Dermatitis Herpetiformis. Gluten Intolerance Group. October 23, 2014; https://www.gluten.net/resources/dermatitis-herpetiformis/. Accessed 10/29/2014.

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