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Cypressmyst

Gluten Can Penetrate The Skin

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I know this is an issue that gets debated here on the forums all the time. Some people react to products with gluten in them, some people insist that it is not possible for gluten to get through the skin barrier.

What follows are several references sent to me by Dr. Vikki Petersen along with her abridged notes on the topic. I've asked her to write something about this in her blog so hopefully she can help humanize it more there. Otherwise this is all very technical. :blink:

But I understand that a lot of you may understand much of this terminology so if you want to humanize it for us please feel free. :)

For me its enough to know that I have reactions to gluten on my skin and that my Docs back up this reaction (not that I would need their confirmation to tell me what my body knows but it is nice to have. ;) ).

In the meantime the information indicating that gluten can indeed break the skin barrier is abridged below, and you are free to locate the Journals in which the full studies appear.

Dr. Vikki's Notes:

Properties of Skin

Has tight junctions like gut - act as barrier to damaging substances.

If gut is leaky, skin likely is as well.

Has extensive immune system like the gut.

-antimicrobial peptides enable epidermis to kill invading microbes.

-keratinocyte identifies pathogen(s) & triggers cytokine production to eliminate it.

World J Gastroenterol 2006 February 14;12(6):843-852

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While there is mention in one of the abstracts that gluten can penetrate mucosal tissue I didn't see one about whether or not it can penetrate intact skin.

We do know that the antibodies can be found in the skin of patients with DH and that celiac can contribute to the formation of other skin issues.

I am a celiac that uses only gluten free skin products and other toiletries because of the chance of a reaction from topicals coming in contact with mucous membranes or inadvertant injestion. If you or the Dr. can find any articles about it actually being absorbed by intact skin I would love to see them since it is something I do wonder about.

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I don't think she is talking about intact skin. She is talking about leaky skin being an issue for Celiacs, along the same vein of leaky gut. In which case it shouldn't be much different then having an open wound and pouring beer on it. Lol

Dr Vikki has a blog that you can contact her through if you need further clarification on one of the studies or how she is reaching her conclusions through them. I'm sure she'd be happy to respond further.

I am just a patient of hers passing on the information to those who might be interested.

Gluten Doctors Blog

For me, I know I've had immediate tingling reactions to lotions and hand sanitizers before touching any other part of my body.

I do not need any study to tell me what I already know to be the case. ;)

But please let us know what more you find out as you are better versed in this terminology than me and there are plenty of folks who need to see scientific research before they will believe what we see anecdotally. It is all very fascinating, if a little technical for my tastes. :blink:

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One point nobody has made yet is that the gluten doesn't have to get through the skin barrier for the person to react to it. There are antibodies in the skin that cause reactions (just like a person can get a topical reaction to nickel, for example). Why does it have to be the same leaky gut mechanism on the skin for a person to react to gluten-containing products on the skin? Maybe some people just have a normal skin allergy/reaction to gluten. Doesn't that make more sense than creating a whole new mechanism for skin reactions?

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Thanks for passing along the info :) I appreciate the links to the articles describing the association between DH And gluten, which seems to be mostly what they're talking about.

However I agree with some of the others - there doesn't seem to be much info here to suggest gluten can cross the skin barrier. Most likely, reactions that do occur, are allergic in nature - different mechanism from the IgA/Ttg mechanism.

Having said that there are tight junctions between skin epithelial cells, I'm not sure if they're identical to the gut ones, and would be sensitive to Zonulin (see below)? I really hope your Dr finds some answers, could be very interesting info here :)

Here's a easily understandable explanation of how leaky gut theoretically happens in the gut:

Zonulin and Leaky gut

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While there are IgA antibodies on mucosal surfaces, those same antibodies are not on the skin. Big difference.

What about getting into our pours when showering? I just bought gluten-free hair and shower products.

Loey

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What about getting into our pours when showering? I just bought gluten-free hair and shower products.

Loey

I think with other products it is more a problem of the gluten getting into your nose and/or mouth during the shower. Or if it's a lotion, then getting from your hands into your food. I don't think the pores are so much the issue. People with Celiac can be really super sensitive, including the trace amounts from lotion into food or from shampoo into the mouth. It's definitely a good idea to get the gluten-free products if you're having any trouble!

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Although the above "evidence" doesn't really seem to support the hypothesis, something to think about: Most cosmetics/grooming products contain chemicals which deliberately make your skin more permeable! They do this so the products can more deeply affect the skin but this also means that all of the (mostly carcinogenic) random chemicals in the mixture are more readily absorbed by your system.

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