My Gluten Allergy

A few words on, Dermatitis Herpetiformis. This is an external reaction to ingesting gluten. Celiacs experience an internal reaction that causes gas and bloating and discomfort. I have the rash of a celiac but not celiac disease.

This all started in 2011, with two tiny itchy patches on the back of each leg. It progressed to my elbows , knees and ankles and always mirrored throughout. So if I had a patch on my right elbow, there was one on my left etc. I only got a proper diagnosis from a dermatologist in October, 2014.

To be fair, DH is easy to misdiagnose. I have been told I have eczema, an allergy to black clothing, bug bites and stress. It was only when I was told to try taking gluten out of my diet that the itch subsided. A word of caution here: if you are experiencing this, do not stop ingesting gluten until you get the tests. I did stop immediately and my test results came back negative but when I try to put gluten back in my diet, the rash reappears. I do not need anymore proof than that and if you are dealing with the itch, you know that you will do anything to make it stop.

It is not easy to live gluten free in a society that is so focused on bread and wheat. I have to make sure that I always have food with me, as gone are the days when I can go to a fast food joint and grab a snack. The bonus is that I’ve saved lots of money eating in and preparing my own food. The down side is prepared food that is gluten free is very expensive so if I want a break from cooking, it can be quite costly.

I have oftten said that this diagnosis is the “best, ‘worst’, thing to have happened to me.” Not knowing what was causing the intense itch for four years was incredibly difficult. Living without gluten and without the itch is easy in comparison.

Yes, I had to change everything I eat.
Yes, I had to invest in cross contamination proofing my kitchen.
Yes, I cannot socialize the same way I used.
Yes, I have to bring my own food wherever I go.
Yes, I cringe inside when someone offers me something to eat that they have made just for me…
Yes, I have bad days where I just wish I could escape all of this hassle.

But I am better off knowing that I am allergic to gluten.

Beth Oldfield