I recently made the following post to the Celiac listserv. (I highly recommend you join if you have Celiac -- it's a great forum. Go here to learn how):
Hi all. In the last two months I have gotten a crazy itchy rash on my neck like I've never had before. It doesn't look too bad (thank goodness!) though it is a little red and blotchy. I've tried topical hydrocortisone and topical and oral benadryl. Nothing seems to help immediately. Each time the rash has subsided after a couple of days, though it has never gone back to completely normal. My web search didn't yield anything particularly helpful, though it doesn't look like DH at all, and I've been on a strict GF diet for more than a year. I know it could be stress, it could be something new I've introduced to my environment. I know auto-immune disorders run in packs and I just thought I'd throw it out there to see if any of you have ideas before I start making appointments for medical intervention.
I got 31 responses from currrently or previously itchy people, which tells me at least 2 things: 1) there are a lot of itchy celiacs out there, and b) there are some very helpful itchy (or previously itchy) celiacs out there. The suggestions broke down into three sorts of catagories:
I. External environment: Something I wore, shampoo I used, new detergent, something like that. Could have been that fuzzy neck pillow duck I borrowed from my younger son on my trip to Albuquerque last month.
II. Something I ate not related to gluten: perhaps a sensitivity to soy, corn, sugar, dairy. My guess would be soy -- I ate edamame before my last two airplane trips when this happened, and a big dinner of broccoli, yellow peppers and tofu the day before my current round of itchiness.
III. Some sort of gluten contamination that caused Dermatitis Herpetiformis, that special skin condition reserved just for us celiacs, or celiac-related malabsorption of B vitamins, causing a scary looking condition called pellagra. Gosh, I hope it's not either of these! I did run afoul of some gluten on the plane on the way back from Phoenix earlier in the month, but I was already rashy by then, and otherwise I have been quite strict.
Here are some remedies and suggestions for dealing with it:
^Use pure aloe on top of hydrocortisone to treat the rash (done)
^Shampoo with Head & Shoulders (done) or use athlete's foot ointment on the rash
^Switch to hypoallergenic shampoos, lotions, etc. (before or after I finish a regimen with Head & Shoulders?)
^Try Sarna cream
^Keep irritants off my neck as much as possible until it completely clears up
^Try to isolate a dietary cause (I'm thinking soy, so I will not have any more until the rash is completely gone, then will monitor when I reintroduce it)
^Eat buckwheat for B vitamins (had it for breakfast) and nutritional yeast
^Take flaxseed oil (ate flaxseed at breakfast with my buckwheat, will have to get some oil)
^Go to a dermatologist, though LOTS of people who responded got nothing useful from their dermatologists and stumbled across a cure on their own.
If you are an itchy celiac, know that you are not alone! Like I tell my kids -- don't scratch, it only makes it worse! I'm developing a LOT of empathy for people who get rashes.