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There has long been taboo around the subject of coeliac disease sufferers being affected by gluten in cosmetics and beauty products. But is this a myth or something we coeliacs should take a bit more seriously?

As you’re probably aware, coeliac disease is an autoimmune reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and to a lesser extent, oats.

Coeliac disease affects the lining of the small intestine and a reaction occurs when gluten is ingested – so why should beauty products cause a problem, unless we are eating our shampoo!?

Could your gluten in your shampoo be a problem?

I put out a survey to you guys to find out your views on gluten in beauty products…

Suprisingly, 27% of you regularly check for gluten in beauty products, and 7% check  but it doesn’t necessarily affect what you buy.

On the other hand, the majority – 43% – said that they never thought to check cosmetics for gluten.

So where has this view come from in the first place?

Although the majority of you (60%) said that you have never had a reaction from any beauty products, 10% said that you HAVE experienced a reaction, and 27% said that it was possible you have, but you have never attributed any reaction to gluten.

Reactions which were attributed to gluten included flaky skin, cracked lips, redness and soreness, and rashes.

But the reactions noted were few and far between, and only a couple of people had been advised to avoid gluten-containing beauty products – none by their doctor or dietician.

I went to Coeliac UK to ask whether these reactions really could be linked to gluten, or whether it’s just a myth going round with no proof.

Amy Peterson, Coeliac UK’s Deputy Head of Diet and Health said:

“Gluten in cosmetics is not attributed to symptoms associated with coeliac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis.”

Is lipstick a problem for coeliac disease sufferers?

“Gluten can only cause a problem for people with coeliac disease if it is eaten. It cannot be absorbed through the skin so using cosmetics or skin products so using cosmetics or skin products which contain gluten is not a problem for people with coeliac disease.”

But what about products such as lipstick or lipbalms, which could be accidentally ingested?

Amy explained: “Even if any ingredients are derived from a cereal which contains gluten, is unlikely that you would swallow enough of the product to cause a problem.”

It would seem then, that with Coeliac UK confirming that gluten in cosmetics is not a problem for those with coeliac disease, and the survey results showing over 60% of you aren’t concerned or have never suffered a reaction, that such reactions being associated with coeliac disease is a myth.

Even though these reactions are apparently unrelated to coeliac disease, Amy offered the following advice on behalf of Coeliac UK to anyone who is still concerned:

If someone is concerned we recommend that you contact the manufacturers directly about a specific product. Also, if someone has a skin or other reaction to a cosmetic, shampoo or beauty product, they should consult their doctor.”

For more information, visit Coeliac UK’s website here.

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About Sarah Howells

Hi, I'm Sarah! Diagnosed with coeliac disease 20 years ago, I'm on a mission to create the best gluten free recipes since sliced bread. No fruit salads or dry brownies here.

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