Conditions related to Coeliac Disease

Dermatitis Herpetiformis

Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH) is a blistering skin condition related to coeliac disease, however it is much rarer.  It is characterised by extremely itchy bumps and blisters which arise on normal reddened skin and is most often found on the scalp, shoulders, buttocks, elbows and knees.  Like coeliac disease, it involves antibodies and intolerance to gluten.  There is a genetic disposition for this disease and it often affects more males than females.  Diagnosis involves examining the skin for immunoglobulin A (IgA) and if found, normal testing for coeliac disease is used to confirm the condition.  It too is controlled by following a complete gluten free diet.


Lactose Intolerance and the Association with Coeliac Disease

Lactose is broken down by an enzyme called lactase, which is found in the lining of the small intestine.  When the lining is damaged it does not make enough lactase so lactose intolerance can occur.  However, once a gluten-free diet is introduced the small intestine is allowed to heal and the normal breakdown of lactose returns.  Therefore, lactose intolerance is usually a temporary problem.  It is important that a discussion with a dietician or nutritionist takes place before eliminating lactose from a diet.  Note this is only the association of lactose intolerance with coeliac disease and may not apply to all individuals.

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