Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) is a chronic autoimmune blistering skin condition, characterised by blisters filled with a watery fluid that is intensely itchy. DH is a cutaneous manifestation of coeliac disease. DH is neither related to nor caused by herpes virus: the name means that it is a skin inflammation having an appearance similar to herpes.
Dermatitis herpetiformis was first described by Louis Adolphus Duhring in 1884. A connection between DH and coeliac disease was recognized in 1967, although the exact causal mechanism is not known.
The age of onset is usually about 15–40, but DH also may affect children and the elderly. Men are slightly more affected than women. Estimates of DH prevalence vary from 1 in 400 to 1 in 10,000. It is most common in patients of northern European and northern Indian ancestry, and is associated with the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) haplotype HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8 along with coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity.