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Gluten and your skin

If you have Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) or Celiac Disease should you avoid using skin products that contain gluten?

My background in skin

I am a certified skin therapist. I also was an Endermologist for 6 years and practiced various skin therapies such as wraps, facials and massages. I was a stockist of Environ and Anessi skin products.

All of this was a long time before I knew I had Celiac Disease. However having that experience and knowledge behind me taught me a lot about the importance of taking care of the biggest organ of our body: the skin.

Normally our skin is the first organ to react or show signs of something wrong internally. Autoimmune conditions can (but not always) have visible symptoms which display on the skin in various ways. Other conditions or illnesses can effect the skin. Various foods whether natural or processed can cause a skin reaction. Certain medication can cause skin problems and even stress and anxiety can display in the skin.

But what about gluten?

According to the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research [1] for a substance to penetrate the skin, it needs to be less than 500 daltons in size. {A dalton is a unit of mass used to express atomic and molecular weights}. Gliadin (the gluten protein) is approximately 631 daltons and therefore too large to penetrate the skin.

This means that unless you have skin lesions that allow gluten to be absorbed in large quantities, using skin products topically should not present a problem. This would include hair products.

However, products like lipstick, lip balm, mouthwash and toothpaste containing gluten might want to be avoided given the obvious reason that we lick our lips and thus could ingest gluten. Although, according to medical experts, this would require a huge amount for it to present a problem. [2] [3] [4]

If you are following a gluten-free diet to control NCGS or if you have Celiac Disease and your find your skin is reacting to certain products with gluten in, it would be best to see a dermatologist.

Gluten Ingredients in skin products:

  • Triticum vulgare (wheat)
  • Hordeum Vulgare (barley)
  • Sesale Cecreal (rye)
  • Avenia Sativa (oats)

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