Cosmetics Could Cause Gluten Reaction

OTC GuideJune 2012
Volume 16
Issue 1

According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC), more than 2 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with celiac disease, a digestive disease in which individuals cannot tolerate gluten. Individuals with celiac disease are counseled to avoid a diet containing gluten, a protein that is found in wheat, barley, and rye.

Cosmetics containing gluten could cause patients to unknowingly expose themselves to the irritant, according to a study presented at the American College of Gastroenterology’s 76th Annual Scientific Meeting on October 31, 2011.

The study concentrated on the top 10 cosmetic companies in the United States and evaluated the availability of information about cosmetic ingredients and gluten-free products. It originated after a patient of one of the study authors developed gastrointestinal complications and a rash following use of a natural body lotion. Although the study authors could not determine whether the lotion contained gluten, the patient’s symptoms resolved after she stopped using it, they noted.

After identifying the top cosmetic companies in the United States, researchers visited official websites for each and searched for “gluten” and “gluten free” to find products manufactured without gluten. Only 2 cosmetic companies presented detailed ingredient information. No gluten sources were identified, however. In addition, researchers used an independent website to further investigate products. Those websites offered ingredient information from 5 companies, but also did not list gluten sources. Ingredient information was unavailable for 4 companies. None of the cosmetic companies researched specifically offered gluten-free options, the investigators found.

“While information on the ingredients of food products has become increasingly available, recent reports have revealed that the use of some cosmetics, including products used on the lips and face, can result in unexpected exposure to gluten,” said researchers Marie L. Borum, MD, EdD, MPH, and Pia Prakash, MD, of George Washington University.

More information about celiac disease can be found on the NDDIC website:

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