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Can products which contain gluten but only touch the skin affect celiacs?*

Very few celiacs are likely to have any reaction to topical gluten contact. In order for a gut reaction to occur, it is likely that direct contact with the gut lumen is required. Many people with celiac disease have everyday contact with gluten (for instance, bakers with celiac disease who have contact everyday with wheat flour), and do not have any reaction

to it. However, there are, on rare occasion, people who have had an anaphylactoid response to gluten, and these people should avoid gluten in all forms. Also, topical gluten breathed into the upper airways may cause symptoms of allergic rhetinitis in rare instances. If there is a simple alternative to a shampoo, cosmetic, etc., you may want to use the non gluten containing product.

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23 Responses:

 
Sandy
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said this on
08 Jan 2008 11:36:14 AM PST
Just starting out, everything helps greatly !!

 
lois
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said this on
08 Feb 2008 6:33:26 AM PST
This is one of the best sites for new people. Easy to access!

 
miranda
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said this on
05 Oct 2008 5:55:46 PM PST
I've been wondering that for years but wasn't sure, thanks!

 
Judy
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said this on
14 Feb 2009 2:40:28 PM PST
Yes, I have had some experiences with shampoos that had wheat in them, it caused a lot of uncontrollable itching. I recently was trying a face cream with collagen, and was getting a rash that was unexplained, until I found that collagen comes from wheat. It took quite a while for the rash to go away after I discontinued use. I had to use vitamin E to get rid of it. Now that is all I use and it works nice.

 
Pam
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said this on
26 Jun 2009 12:26:29 PM PST
I see no research sited that supports the premise that topical gluten has no adverse effect on celiacs. Until I see research that proves topical gluten is safe for celiacs, I will continue to recommend that celiacs avoid gluten-containing personal products. Additionally, I have heard anecdotal stories similar to Judy's that would concern me. Certainly it is recommended that those with dermatitis herpetiformis avoid topical gluten!

When we work so hard to avoid ingesting gluten, does it make any sense to use a shampoo or hand cream with wheat protein? I suppose you never get shampoo or your hair in your mouth or you never lick your fingers. I guess you would have to be very careful to avoid accidental ingestion.

Also, I am shocked to see the inference that baking with gluten products has no effect on celiacs. Even if skin contact has no effect, the possibility of breathing in gluten through the mouth while talking and thus ingesting it accidentally is enough to suggest that all celiacs avoid baking with gluten! In fact, I know one celiac baker who was very sick until he quit his job. Perhaps all the bakers mentioned in the article are not as sensitive, but I hope they have their antibodies checked regularly.

 
Bobbie
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said this on
06 Jul 2009 8:38:44 AM PST
I have had many reactions to products containing gluten as well. I'm not convinced that this stuff doesn't affect the skin. I used to get dermatitis herpetiformis every time I used lotion or gel until I realized that some had hydrolized wheat protein in them. Same with my shampoo. As soon as I changed to Dove, the dandruff and skin problems totally ceased.

 
Mik

said this on
06 Mar 2013 7:41:57 PM PST
I just recently found out I have a wheat allergy. This info makes sense to me. I used to think that my low carb diet cured my dandruff until I changed shampoo and was confused. I finally read the ingredients and found out there were wheat products in it. My shampoo brought back my dandruff. Now I have to change back. I am glad I realized that topical exposure to gluten also produces an allergic reaction. Duh! Your skin is a large, absorbent organ - you do not necessarily have to have a 'gut' reaction to ingested wheat to trigger allergies.

 
kate
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said this on
16 Dec 2009 5:08:13 PM PST
I was diagnosed over the summer and I have steadily gotten more and more sensitive. At first I didn't worry about hair and skin products with gluten, but now I have realized that they do affect me. I think this is because it's impossible to avoid getting some products into contact with my mouth. For instance, I had a hair product that I used one day. I washed my hands like I usually did after using it, but later on I fluffed my hair with my hands. Then I went and ate a tangerine, putting my hands all over it, not really thinking. An hour later, I was throwing up. I checked the label and wheat protein was a main ingredient. I also used to get rashes while using some lotions and facial moisturizers, surprise surprise, they have hydrolyzed wheat protein and barley extract. For me, it's not worth it! I could never imagine the horror of having to breathe in flour all day.

 
sheila watson
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said this on
21 Oct 2010 5:48:46 PM PST
Many manufacturers of hair and skin products, do not list on their labels ALL the ingredients, so it behooves us the public to call them and esquire. I don't know what ingredient has caused some rashes on my skin but now that I have been diagnosed I'm more likely to esquire.

 
Hilaire Perry
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said this on
12 Oct 2011 4:59:38 PM PST
I have such trouble when hydrolyzed wheat protein touches my scalp. It starts out as small pimples and becomes small open sores by the end of the day. I had switched my shampoo and conditioner and thought I was all set until I used hairspray (thinking there is no way gluten would be in hairspray)...thought I was going crazy until I read the label.

 
Jules
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said this on
06 Nov 2011 5:26:35 AM PST
I had been using volume shampoo's without realizing they contained hydrolyzed wheat protein. Every time I used these shampoos my hair fell out in mass amounts. I literally have lost half my hair in the past two years. After being diagnosed with celiac disease, I checked my shampoo and hair product ingredients. Bingo! hydrolyzed wheat protein. Since I no longer use hair products with this ingredient, I no longer lose hair.

 
debra higgins
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said this on
12 May 2012 11:12:58 AM PST
I too have celic and have had reactions to of all things, bath tissue. I am very careful with what I purchase making sure I call or email the company for a list of ingredients.

 
Roland Maduro
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said this on
20 May 2012 7:35:38 AM PST
I wonder everyday about the cross-contamination of wheat. I suspected touching bread was making me sick, but then I realized soap was making me itch.

Thanks for the information.

 
marylou hubbard
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said this on
07 Jul 2012 4:43:35 PM PST
i have dermatitis herpetiformis too. Does anyone out there know of any hair products that are gluten and wheat free?

 
stephpbk
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said this on
13 Jul 2012 4:47:08 PM PST
@Marylou hubbard. I don't know if have heard of Arbonne but it is a fabulous company that makes over 400 gluten-free products from shampoo/conditioner, protein powder and skin care products! We are in the process of getting our almost 4 year old tested for celiac disease and swear by these products! I hope this helps.

 
Jodi Hubbell
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said this on
04 Jun 2013 2:22:38 PM PST
Alterna is gluten free and available in salons. While it does have fragrance (which can include hidden gluten), which I try to stay away from and I prefer to use something more "natural" I get contact dermitis that may or may not be from gluten so I stick with what works for me.

 
tpfx
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said this on
09 Oct 2012 1:08:28 PM PST
This article was originally published in 1996. The responses came 12-16 years later. I would encourage all folks new to a celiac disease diagnosis, or anyone trying to be informed, to research this topic beyond this article.

 
Angela

said this on
29 Oct 2013 8:39:06 PM PST
Not all Arbonne items are wheat free. They claim they use a process to remove the gluten but I now plan to avoid certain items like a certain shampoo with a great scent but wheat protein in it. So read the ingredients carefully before buying Arbonne.

 
Lori
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said this on
11 Feb 2014 10:39:42 PM PST
I would like to express my concern that I have received many e-mail responses from companies telling me that there is 'no evidence' that gluten is absorbed through the skin. I can tell you it IS absorbed through the skin. Perhaps I am sensitive, but I have clear distinct gluten response including vasovagal response, abdominal cramping itching, insomnia, and severe edema, a response that took much research on my own part to relate to certain mascara, most self-tanners, and some shampoos. Some of the manufacturers such as Pureology have admitted gluten in some of their hair care products, which then makes it easy to avoid. But, it is quite annoying to be told that there is no such thing.... I hope there is future advanced cooperation by some of these manufacturers to make consumers aware so that they can avoid any unwanted response. It truly is not fun to find out the hard way...
Education is the tool to greater health for all of us....

 
Lori
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said this on
10 Sep 2014 1:35:26 PM PST
Your allergic to something else in the products you are using. Mayne it's time to research other allergens?

 
Dylan
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said this on
22 Oct 2014 6:37:08 PM PST
Irregardless of what they think, we have a right to choose what ingredients we choose to purchase and the only way we can do that is if they disclose. I agree with you. Interestingly I knew a bartender who had terrible problems because he came in constant contact with beer which contains gluten. I myself cannot drink from glasses in bars even though I order soda because they are dipped in the same solution as the beer glasses.

 
Lori
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said this on
10 Sep 2014 1:21:31 PM PST
I am a celiac, when I was first diagnosed 5 years ago I went through a stage where I didn't use gluten products around me at all. Now that I'm more comfortable with what is fact--I even use Aveno as a skin cream, I don't even look at ingredients anymore unless I eat them. I have to say also that I am very very sensitive to gluten. This place was my Bible for many years I trust what they post! I will continue to trust what they post. I don't stress over my celiac disease anymore, time and knowledge has lightening my load. I also just had a check up biopsy done and my villi are perfect! Thank you Celiac.com for helping my stay informed all these years.

 
LuDena
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said this on
25 Apr 2016 6:13:03 PM PST
Maybe it's not common but we are out there. I had to stop cooking separate wheat pasta for the kids because if I breathed the steam or put my arm through it I would swell up like a balloon and where it touched my skin it created sores.
I also live where wheat and barley is grown every harvest I get sick if I leave the house, I have helps filters on my heat and cool unit . It triggers my Crohn's, my asthma comes back, I swell and get sicker and sicker until the rains come after harvest. It takes longer and longer to recover each year. I now leave the area for 2 to 3 months to stay well.




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