Gluten in cosmetics? Let’s clarify the matter!

imagesWe often come across the inscription “gluten free” on cosmetic label: such information is not required for cosmetic products because celiac disease is related to gluten intake with food.

Actually, celiac disease is a permanent food intolerance to gluten, a protein-based component found in the majority of cereals (i.e. wheat, barley, hulled wheat, kamut®, rye, triticale and spelt) which can be found in foodstuffs as ingredient, additive or contaminant.

In people who are genetically predisposed, dietary gluten intake may lead to an abnormal immune response, followed by chronic inflammation with gradual shortening of villi and intestinal malabsorption. The targeted organ is small intestine even though celiac disease may show different clinical phenomena and it could be associated to dermal disorders such as dermatitis herpetiformis.

Celiac subjects do not run the risk of anaphylactic shock by accidental contact and a strict diet without source of gluten is the only therapy known so far. It is recommended to not start a gluten-free diet as long as you have been visited by a physician confirming celiac disease: such wrong behavior could make celiac disease diagnosis more difficult. It’s important to avoid extreme warnings leading to worse celiac lifestyle. Italian Association of Celiac disease clearly stated: “gluten presence in cosmetics, detergent or other beauty care products to be used on skin or mucosa (i.e. mouth) does not implicate any risks for celiac persons”.

People affected by celiac disease do not need a dedicated cosmetic line. There is no need to specify gluten-free label on cosmetics, unlike of indications on foodstuff label. Gluten does not cross intact skin so skin-care products (or mucosa suitable ones), unless ingested, do not bear particular risks for celiac subjects, they can safely use every favorite cosmetics.