Gluten-Free Skin Products And Cosmetics

I just returned from the International Association of Culinary Professionals Conference in Portland, OR with @foodblogga (she was at the conference, I was just there to eat Voodoo Doughnuts). One of the hottest topics in food now is the gluten-free diet.

Gluten sensitivity isn’t new; it was first described in the first century AD. Celiac disease (the medical diagnosis for gluten-sensitive patients) was known in the 1880’s.

Despite the recent attention, true gluten sensitivity is uncommon and affects < 5% of the population. People who are sensitive to gluten develop an autoimmune reaction to wheat, barley, rye and other grains which leads to inflammation of their small intestine. Some gluten-sensitive people actually develop a rash called dermatitis herpetiformis (we derms love the big names, don’t we?).

Being the only dermatologist at this food conference (weird, huh?), people wanted to know: “If someone is gluten sensitive, must they also avoid applying cosmetics or using products that contain gluten?”


Gluten sensitivity is specific to your intestines; applying gluten to your skin will not trigger a gluten reaction. You can trigger a reaction if you eat your cosmetic, which is not that crazy when you consider that lip balms or toothpaste can contain gluten.

Other gluten-free products including shampoos, conditioners, makeup, etc. are unlikely to have any significance. If you develop a rash from your cosmetics, then see your physician — allergic contact dermatitis to fragrance or┬ápreservatives might be the cause for your rash.

If you develop a rash after eating several Maple and Bacon Voodoo Doughnuts, it was the gluten.

Photo: Bern@t (flickr)