Auto Immune Disease Rashes

Last Updated on June 1, 2024

Today, we’re going to be looking at autoimmune disease rashes. There are many autoimmune conditions that can leave a rash on your skin. Ranging from mild rashes, to more severe. Many autoimmune conditions can also cause hives if not treated correctly. But what conditions can cause an autoimmune rash and autoimmune hives? Let’s take a closer look.

What Is An Autoimmune Condition?

A functioning immune system will fight off any infections or diseases that may try to attack your body. However, when you have an autoimmune disease, your body will attack the healthy cells within your body. This leaves your immune system vulnerable and means you’ll be more susceptible to illness, infection, and disease.

What Autoimmune Conditions Can Cause Rashes/Hives?

There are many autoimmune conditions that can cause outbreaks of hives and rashes on your body. The more common conditions that leave rashes and hives are as follows:

  • Celiac Disease
  • Lupus
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Hypothyroidism

This list is by no means extensive, but the most common conditions that may cause rashes.

Why Do Autoimmune Disease Cause Rashes?

Rashes can be caused by a range of factors. This includes inflammation to skin cells, genetics, and environmental factors. We’ll be taking a look at the causes in more detail later.

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What Can The Rashes Look Like?

Depending on the rash and it’s causes, they can look very different. For example, psoriasis can leave a scaly, itchy rash on your skin. Whereas dermatomyositis can cause a red or purple rash.


Celiac – The Auto-Immune Disease

It’s estimated that 1% of the population live with Celiac disease. That may not seem many, but that still leaves millions of people across the world living with this autoimmune disease. Much like gluten intolerance, your body can not tolerate gluten. However, the difference between gluten intolerance and Celiac disease is vast. If you have Celiac disease, eating gluten causes a trigger in your body to attack your healthy tissues. This can have catastrophic effect on your small intestine, and cause permanent damage.


The most common symptoms of Celiac disease are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Flatulence
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia
  • …and Skin Rashes!

What Rash Can You Have From Celiac Disease?

As this is a gluten free blog, I thought we’d focus on the rashes you can have from celiac disease. The rash from Celiac disease can be very sore and is more commonly known as gluten rash or dermatitis herpetiformis. Around 10% of people with Celiac disease experience gastro symptoms and rash symptoms – so it’s reasonably uncommon.

Where Does Gluten Rash Occur?

The most commonly affected areas for gluten rash are:

  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Lower Back
  • Buttocks
  • Scalp
  • Groin (less common)
  • Face (less common)

What Are The Symptoms Of Gluten Rash?

There are a few tell-tale signs of gluten rash – most of which aren’t very pleasant. But there are ways to treat them! We’ll be looking at those later. The common symptoms of gluten rash are:

  • Blisters/Lesions (the skin will be red and raised)
  • Incredibly Itchy Skin
  • Hive-like Sores
  • Lesions/Blisters that appear in groups

The less common symptoms of this rash are:

  • Canker Sores
  • Tooth Enamel Issues
  • Gastro Problems (bloating, Diarrhoea, etc.)

For a Visual Guide to Celiac disease, including images of what rashes may look like, WebMD are a great place to check out.

Causes Of Celiac Autoimmune Disease Rashes

The most common cause is, of course, eating gluten. However, if one of your first-degree relatives have Celiac disease, it’s thought you have a much higher risk of developing the disease yourself or developing gluten rash. These are known as genetic and environmental factors.

Treatment Of Celiac Autoimmune Disease Rashes

The most obvious treatment to prevent gluten rash is avoiding gluten at all costs. A strict gluten-free diet will keep the rash at bay. However, there are some medications that have proven effective – and work quickly too. These include:

  • Dapsone (an antibiotic)
  • Sulfa Pyridine
  • Topical Corticosteroids (can not be used long term)

You will often be seen by a dietician and a dermatologist if you’re Celiac and are experiencing dermatitis herpetiformis (gluten rash). They will be able to give you advice and make the disease as manageable as possible for you.

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Prevention Of Celiac Autoimmune Disease Rashes

There are ways to minimize the symptoms, but unfortunately, there is no way to prevent it from ever happening. This is something you’ll likely be experiencing for life. As long as you’re sticking to a gluten-free diet, and taking medication prescribed from your doctor – it is easy to live a normal, healthy life.

Complications Of Auto-Immune Disease Rashes

Much like any condition, it can come with complications and long-lasting damage. Complications of dermatitis herpetiformis (often associated with Celiac disease) are as follows:

  • Dry Hair, Nails, and Skin
  • Heart Problems
  • Dental Issues (Problems with Tooth Enamel)
  • Recurring Miscarriages
  • Neurological Issues
  • Ulcers

It’s important to note that some of these are severe complications and will often only occur if not following a strict gluten-free diet. If you’re worried that you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, please discuss this with your doctor/dentist.


I hope this article has helped you to become more familiar with autoimmune disease rashes. If you have an autoimmune disease, and you do develop a new rash – please discuss this with your doctor. While this article is good for learning more about rashes, it’s always best to consult your doctor and let them know of any symptoms you’re experiencing. They know your full medical history, and what’s best for you.

If you do live with an autoimmune disease and experience rashes, try not to worry too much. It’s possible to maintain a healthy lifestyle, as long as you’re following the correct advice and guidance from medical professionals.

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