Dermatitis herpetiformis appears as clusters of small itchy blisters that are normally located around the elbows, lower back, buttocks, knees and back of the head. Itching and burning can be severe with these blisters. It is more common in men than women and is a lifelong condition, according to the University of Chicago.
Due to the name of the condition, many people assume it is caused by herpes, but this is incorrect. Dermatitis herpetiformis occurs due to an allergic reaction to gluten that creates deposits of the antibody IgA under the skin. The two components are released into the bloodstream together and begin to clog blood vessels in the skin. These clogged vessels lead to rashes and blisters.
The condition mostly occurs in people with Northern European heritage and is rare in people of African-American and Asian descent. People who suffer from this condition often have higher occurrences of autoimmune thyroid disease. Treatment for this condition will vary depending on age, the severity of the condition and several other factors. The condition may clear up when the gluten has left the system but will reoccur if gluten is ingested again. Dapsone is sometimes prescribed to suppress the skin's reaction but has a number of side effects and should be closely monitored by the patient's doctor.