Hives and other chronic skin rashes and itching can be one of the reactions that may appear as a result of a gluten allergy. Since you cannot be allergic to your own skin, the real allergy or intolerance lies in the gluten you consume.
People with a gluten allergy may suffer from a number of unpleasant symptoms, triggered by their body’s inability to properly digest gluten. Symptoms can range in frequency and severity and may include migraines and lethargy, to digestive problems such as diarrhea or constipation, to skin problems. Following a lifetime gluten-free diet is the only method for managing this condition.
People with gluten allergies produce foreign amounts of IgA antibodies in reaction to gluten in their system. This reaction is considered an autoimmune response to what the body perceives as an “invasion” by a foreign and unrecognizable substance. The body creates special antibodies to attack the gluten protein; however, in the process it also begins to attack its own protein network. In some people, the body deposits antibodies into the skin. These antibodies are triggered when gluten, which is absorbed into the bloodstream, is circulated throughout the body and deposited in the dermis (skin). This interaction results in an eruption on the skin which manifests as a blistering, burning and itchy rash known as Dermatitis Herpetiformis.
While Dermatitis Herpetiformis can affect any area of the body, especially located on the scalp, elbows, buttocks, knees, feet and back. Research shows that Dermatitis Herpetiformis is not a common reaction to gluten, and it affects more men than women. People with Dermatitis Herpetiformis should be tested for gluten enteropathy, the most common form of celiac disease.
An elimination diet is the only way to control Dermatitis Herpetiformis. However, once you are gluten-free, it may still take months, or even years, for Dermatitis Herpetiformis to completely heal.