Duhring's disease or dermatitis herpetiformis is characterized by intensely itchy hives or blister-like patches of skin located primarily on elbows, knees, and buttocks, although other sites may be involved. A burning or stinging sensation may accompany the itching. The condition is extremely itchy, and the desire to scratch can be overwhelming. This sometimes causes the sufferer to scratch the blisters off before a doctor examines them. Intense itching or burning sensations are sometimes felt before the blisters appear in a particular area.
The exact cause of this disease is not known although it is frequently associated with the inability to digest gluten. Duhring's disease symptoms are chronic, and they tend to come and go, mostly in short periods of time. Sometimes, these symptoms may be accompanied by symptoms of coeliac disease, commonly including abdominal pain bloating or loose stool and fatigue. Dermatitis herpetiformis responds well to medication and changes in diet.
Dapsone, an antibacterial drug, is an effective treatment for most patients. Duhring's disease responds to dapsone quickly and itching is significantly reduced within 2–3 days. However, drug treatment has no effect on any intestinal damage that might be present, therefore, a strict gluten-free diet must also be followed, and will usually be a lifelong requirement.