Should Your Skincare Products Be Gluten-Free?

Gluten-free foods and skin care products are becoming all the rage, and while a gluten-free diet may be necessary for those with gluten intolerance or sensitivities, does your skin really benefit from a gluten-free routine? There is conflicting evidence as to whether or not gluten molecules are able to penetrate the skin when applied topically, but most experts believe that only gluten that is ingested poses a risk to people with celiac disease. There is, however, a condition known as dermatitis herpetiformis that is also gluten-related, as well as various levels of wheat allergies and sensitivities. Here is an overview of these skin conditions and how using products that contain gluten may or may not affect them.

What Is Dermatitis Herpetiformis?

Dermatitis herpetiformis, also known as Duhring’s disease, is a skin rash that can affect people with gluten intolerance. It is characterized by itchy bumps and blisters that may resemble those caused by the herpes virus, although this condition is not related to herpes, despite its name. Many times, dermatitis herpetiformis is misdiagnosed as eczema, but unlike eczema, this condition can be completely cleared by adopting a gluten-free diet. However, it does not appear that topical products containing gluten contribute to these symptoms (Celiac Disease Foundation). Although a growing body of research indicates that gluten molecules are too large to penetrate the skin, those with wheat allergies may experience a rash or irritation when gluten-containing products are applied to the skin (Mayo Clinic). In this case, you may need to look for skin care products that are gluten-free. If you’re struggling to manage dermatitis herpetiformis, or think that you might have an allergy to wheat that is causing a rash, talk with your dermatologist about the most appropriate treatment options.

Consider Gluten-Free Lip Products

While it’s unlikely that topically-applied skin care products will trigger symptoms of celiac disease, using lip products that contain gluten may pose a slight risk, as these can be accidentally ingested. If you have celiac disease, a gluten sensitivity, or gluten allergy, you might want to consider swapping out your lip balms and other lip care products that contain gluten for gluten-free options.

Confused about Which Skin Care Products to Use?

Any time you experience a rash, itching, or other signs of irritation after using a particular skin care product, it’s a sign that there is at least one ingredient in that product that isn’t right for your skin type, or that you are allergic to. If you’re not sure what could be causing the adverse reaction, take the suspected product to your dermatologist so that he or she can help to piece together the puzzle. Many times, people will try to solve their skin care problems on their own by layering product after product, which can end up making matters worse. Instead, find a dermatologist in your area who offers the innovative Skin Type Solution system, which first assesses your skin based on a questionnaire and determines which of the 16 Baumann Skin Types you are. Then, you can head to or work with your dermatologist to choose skin care products that perfectly match your skin type.

The Bottom Line

If you have a severe gluten intolerance or allergy, it may be worth your while to look into gluten-free options for skin care products, especially those that are applied near your mouth. Otherwise, gluten-free products may not be necessary, even for those with celiac disease. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re unsure about which products or ingredients you should avoid or include in your everyday skin care routine, consult your dermatologist. Using the wrong products can have numerous unwanted effects on your skin, whether gluten-free or not.


Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D. and her team at Baumann Cosmetic Dermatology believe in proof, not promises. World-recognized for both cosmetic and general dermatology, our treatment strategies rely exclusively on evidence-based, scientifically verified products and procedures that promote skin health and a natural appearance. We combine effective medical procedures with individualized instruction on proper skincare, nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle in order to maximize the health of the skin and body as a whole while minimizing the effects of aging. For more, visit Dr. Baumann’s blog for daily updates Monday through Friday, or inquire about an appointment through

June 9, 2017 Skincare