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How can Gluten affect skin?

Research estimates that 18 million Americans have gluten sensitivity. That’s 6 times the amount of Americans who have celiac disease.

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (wheat berries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye.

Medical experts largely agree that there is a condition related to gluten other than celiac. In 2011 a panel of celiac experts convened in Oslo and settled on a medical term for this malady: non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

There are people who say they have experienced rashes, dry patches, acne and other skin irritations with products that contain gluten. That could be, especially for people with celiac disease, because the body’s autoimmune response that damages the small intestine may manifest itself on the skin. Certain skin conditions such as eczema may be exacerbated.


A gluten allergy means that the body forms antigens in response to the protein, activating an immune system response For individuals with a gluten sensitivity, (not Celiac*) the presence of gluten (whether eaten or used topically) activates the immune system and can trigger inflammation causing the skin to appear red or irritated.This includes acne, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, etc. A burning sensation may precede lesion formation.

How does a disorder that damages the intestines show up on the skin? As IgA (a type of antibody called immunoglobulin A) enters the bloodstream, it can collect in small blood vessels under the skin, triggering further immune reactions.
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Some people develop a form of celiac disease called dermatitis herpetiformis (DH), which causes an itchy, blistering rash. This skin disorder is also linked to gluten intolerance. (not Celiac*) More than 95 percent of DH cases are misdiagnosed as eczema.

DH is often confused with eczema, a common inflammatory skin disorder that, like DH, results in an itchy rash that is often scratched raw.

DH is not caused by the herpes virus, its lesions resemble those of herpes, hence the word “herpetiformis.” In both conditions, lesions form in small groups.  Unusual outbreaks can occur on forehead and eyelids.

Who Gets Dermatitis Herpetiformis?
About 15-25% of individuals with celiac disease experience DH
DH affects more men than women. DH generally starts in adulthood. People of northern European descent are more likely than those of African or Asian heritage to develop DH. Family studies show that 5 percent of first-degree relatives of a person with DH will also have DH. Less than 20 percent of people with DH have symptoms of celiac disease.

DERMAEHow can Gluten affect skin? 1 You don’t have to be gluten sensitive to experience the benefits of gluten-free skincare.

Some people with sensitive skin, for instance, find that natural skincare with fewer toxins and no gluten may reduce irritation or breakouts. Others may not have a problem with gluten but they can develop contact dermatitis if it’s an ingredient in their skincare products.

While the label may not say “gluten” in the ingredient list, if you see wheat, rye, barley or the wheat/rye combination triticale, it’s best to avoid it. It’s much easier to purchase skin care that specifically says it’s gluten-free.

Just because you can’t have gluten doesn’t mean you should miss out.
DERMA E is proud that all of their products are gluten-free, which fits our mission to create natural skincare that is 100% vegan and cruelty-free.
Save 30% off all DESERT ESSENCE gluten-free products for hair, body and skin care

* Only one in five celiac disease sufferers is diagnosed, leaving millions at risk for long-term health complications including type 1 diabetes, disease of the thyroid, liver, and heart, and intestinal cancers.

Sources: Mayo Clinic, NIH, psoriasis.org, celiac.org, DERMA E 

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