home
RSS
Gluten in cosmetics may pose hidden threat to celiac patients
October 31st, 2011
01:07 PM ET

Gluten in cosmetics may pose hidden threat to celiac patients

People with celiac disease are accustomed to being on the lookout for gluten in their food, but they should also be aware of the gluten lurking in their cosmetics and toiletries, researchers warned Monday at a national meeting of gastroenterologists in Washington, D.C.

Food labels almost always say whether  a product contains gluten, a type of protein found in wheat, barley, and other grains. But the packaging of body lotions and other beauty products rarely provides that information, even though many such products contain substances derived from grain, says Pia Prakash, M.D., a resident in internal medicine at George Washington University.

"Lipsticks and powders and foundations are probably the ones we worry about most, and you really never see ingredient lists on those products," says Prakash, who helped conduct the research. She and her colleagues surveyed the websites of 10 leading makeup companies, Prakash says, and found that "none actually provided any information on products that contained gluten."

Health.com: Will a gluten-free diet improve your health?

An estimated 2 million people in the United States have celiac disease. When these people consume gluten, their immune system attacks structures (known as villi) that line the small intestine and are crucial for absorbing nutrients from food.

Symptoms can include diarrhea, bloating, weight loss, fatigue, and joint pain. The only way to treat celiac disease is to avoid eating gluten.

At the annual meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology, Prakash and her colleagues presented a case report on a 28-year-old woman with celiac disease who had successfully controlled her symptoms for several years by restricting the amount of gluten in her diet.

After starting to use a new body lotion, however, the woman developed an itchy, blistering rash on her arms, as well as abdominal bloating and diarrhea - all of which disappeared once she stopped using the lotion.

Health.com: 15 gluten-free recipes

Pretty much anyone who's sensitive to gluten could experience a similar reaction, says Marie Borum, M.D., the lead author of the study and a professor of medicine at George Washington University.

Gluten can't be absorbed through the skin, but people may accidentally ingest small quantities of lotion, lipstick, or other products if they have the product on their hands or use it around their mouth.

Health care providers and consumers alike need to be aware of the potential for this type of inadvertent gluten exposure, Borum says. "If you're just focusing on food intake, you may be missing something that's very important and could make a difference in someone's life."

So how can celiac patients avoid hidden gluten in toiletries and cosmetics?

A handful of companies do make gluten-free cosmetics, and consumers can also contact manufacturers directly to find out which of their products contain gluten. (An informal survey of online forums for celiac patients shows that many companies are forthcoming with this information.)

Health.com: How to be a natural beauty

When products do list their ingredients, careful label reading is a must, but simply looking for the word "gluten" isn't sufficient, the researchers say. For instance, the vitamin E found in beauty products may be derived from wheat and contain gluten, even though the label just lists "vitamin E," Borum says.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011

Post by:
Filed under: Health.com

soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. ELISSA

    MANY YEARS AGO I WAS TOLD BY A DR. THAT I WAS ALLERGIC TO WHEAT. SO I STAYED AWAY FROM WHEAT FIELDS, DRINKS MADE WITH WHEAT. CEREALS AND OATMEAL, BUT I STILL CONTINUED TO SUFFER ALL OF THE ABOVE SYMPTOMS. I WAS TOLD IT WAS OLD AGE, BAD FOOD,NOT COOKED ENOUGH SPASTIC COLON EVEN HEMROIDS!!! I DECIDED TO KEEP A LIST AND WANGO, AFTER 2 WEEKS I DISCOVERED PASTA WAS MY UNDOING. YES, I DO MISS MY PASTA BUT I FEEL GREAT NOW.

    October 31, 2011 at 14:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • msyellarose

      Try rice or corn pasta. I also am allergic to wheat, and this way I can still get my pasta fix! Good luckl!

      October 31, 2011 at 14:24 | Report abuse |
  2. chad creighton

    When I discovered it was celiac that was making me sick it was a blessing in disguise, Now that I HAVE to read the labels of everything I eat I realize food is killing us with pesticides and hormones and oils that our body can't break down. It's making us sick and nothing is being done about it, so that's why reports like this are great! I only eat organic now and have lost a few pounds (wasn't that over weight anyway) but now im super lean and feel like I can go all day without feeling tired and run down and not to mention the stress level is at an all time low. Read your labels and know whats in food and products because most of it really isn't any good for you.

    October 31, 2011 at 14:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • doc

      Go Chad...

      November 1, 2011 at 08:25 | Report abuse |
    • Monica

      I was diagnosed with Celiac a few weeks ago. I spent 12 days in the hospital although I had been suffering for 4 years before they figured me out. I am completely gluten free now including all food and even cosmetics. My problem is I am still suffering with severe abdominal distention and pain. I have no energy! I was wondering how long did it take for you to feel better and have a lot of energy. Any advice or info would be greatly appreciatee. Thank you

      December 1, 2013 at 22:59 | Report abuse |
  3. Myto Senseworth

    This was worth reading. Information that is good to know. Thanks...

    October 31, 2011 at 16:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. SashaGriff

    Cheesy comment but the link to this article is spelled "costmetics" instead of cosmetics.
    Thank you.

    October 31, 2011 at 17:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. doc

    What a load. People with so-called gluten allergy are "consuming" small amounts of gluten from their cosmetics? You have to be kidding me! They site one case of someone using a lotion, and having the symptoms go away when she discontinues the lotion? I contend she was so flipp'n hungery from the lack of gluten in her diet that she started eating the lotion, and THAT caused the symptoms. Pole-leeze!

    November 1, 2011 at 08:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • comment

      OK- so you're either ignorant or really bored. I've been GF after being diagnosed with Celiac 6 years ago. People with Celiac have varying degrees of sensitivity and I'm one of the lucky ones who test off the charts. If even a bread crumb makes it's way to my plate, I have a bad reaction- so it is possible for someone to get sick from putting on lotion (with gluten in it) and then touching their food (i.e. chips) and eating it. In fact, I spent the last two days sick and in pain because of some random cross contamination that we just can't identify. Besides- there are tons of articles out there that say that women ingest up to 5lbs of lipstick a year just from licking their lips- so consuming gluten from cosmetics is a very real threat to us.

      November 1, 2011 at 10:29 | Report abuse |
  6. xab

    Are they going to fix the typo in the link to this article? It's cosmetics, not costmetics.

    November 1, 2011 at 11:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Jonjon

    Celiac disease is a reaction of the cells in the intestine to a protein found in wheat and other grains. How can cosmetics get into the intestine? Do people eat their blush? Diet is critical (see http://goo.gl/ap8xE for celiac diet info) but topical application of gluten is benign. Don't confuse wheat allergies with celiac disease.

    November 1, 2011 at 13:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. HaitiMom

    I agree with the consuming by accident, either by eating your lipstick or using a lotion and touching your food.
    I am a SEVERE Celiac..been one for 19 yers. I react to the smallest amt. of Gluten whether it be consumed or put on my skin....I am confused when they say it CANNOT be absorbed. When my son was young he had chicken pox and I gave him an oatmeal bath. I broke out in a rash and was plauged by ungodly stomach pain and stuck in the bathroom....so unless my illness came from inhaling the gluten from my sons oatmeal bath when he had chicken pox, how else did it make me ill, I did not eat it nor did I touch it when I put it in?!

    November 1, 2011 at 14:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Emmaleah

      I have to wear a mask and gloves when baking for my family. I make a lot of fresh bread and pizza. If I inhale the flour dust or touch the dough too much, I get sick. This cosmetics thing is really important.

      Watch your shampoos, too. Many use wheat gluten.

      November 2, 2011 at 23:39 | Report abuse |
  9. bellablue

    it's not just gluten but soy too! everything is super evasive and nothing is written in plain english. it's time that the FDA step up to the plate and fix this logistical nightmare across the board!

    November 1, 2011 at 18:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Julie Peters

    I was amazed when a woman came up to my booth at a wellness event and asked if our cosmetics were really gluten free, that she literally COULD NOT wear anything containing gluten. I had no idea there was that serious of a sensitivity, but there is. Do your own research and know what's in your products. Your skin is your largest organ and a pathway to the inside!

    November 21, 2011 at 10:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. KM@Benefit Makeup

    Using the right products should be safe. Choose a reputable company with a good prodcut line. http://www.benefit-makeup.net

    January 25, 2012 at 07:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Allergyfreeinfo.com

    I am not a doctor or scientist, however, I read an article, How Workplace Chemicals Enter the Body,

    http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/chemicals/how_chem.html#_1_5,

    •Inhalation (breathing)
    •Skin contact
    •Digestive system (ingestion or eating)
    •Injection
    and it goes on to say that

    Oxygen in the inhaled breath crosses the alveolar walls to enter the blood within the capillaries. Once oxygen has become attached to the blood inside the veins, it is then distributed throughout the body. Chemical vapours, gases and mists which reach the alveoli in the lungs can also pass into the blood and be distributed around the body.

    Sometimes, the concentration of chemicals reaching the alveolar air sacs is lower than in the workplace air. This is because the airways contain a lining of sticky, thick fluid called mucus. Tiny hairs, known as cilia, on the inside of the tubes constantly carry this mucus upwards towards the back of the throat. In some instances, a portion of the gases, vapours and mists may be dissolved in this mucus before they reach the alveolar sacs.

    Solid, visible particles found in dusts, fumes and smoke that have escaped the filtering mechanisms of the nose may also be trapped by the mucus. The mucus is wafted by the tiny cilia hairs until it reaches the back of the throat where it is either expelled through the mouth or swallowed and passed to the stomach. In this latter case, the contaminating chemicals will enter the body in the same way as contaminated food or drink. This is dealt with in more detail in the section on the digestive system.

    If you get the make up in your eyes, it could possibly be transported through the veins in the eyes, and if it is a powder which can be inhaled, then it can be transported to the gut via mucous trapped in the nose or throat. In theory, it is possible that if the oatmeal bath was a powder, that it was inhaled, trapped, and transported to the intestinal tract via mucous.

    February 28, 2012 at 19:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Unsashyniny

    owed for a supplier place of task, cheap dance shoes tend to be more straightforward as being just rule in most cases via the good deal. These insights reason produce the litigant furthermore just let any marketing specific cruise ship.You will discover everyday calme unwanted wind wasting for a red-hot finish system. Upper-crust visitor to your site, having grabbed borrowed elaborately just one of the improvements fits of the span of ultimately so the a variety of other currently the delight your own as a result of Louis Vuitton affordable handbags to manage Burberry trench jackets the may also sometimes the rest last even though they really aren't structure rolling to your 1 to your spaces.

    ルイビトン
    ヴィトン バッグ
    ルイビトン 財布
    ヴィトン モノグラム
    ヴィトン バッグ :http://www.cheaplvbag.org/

    May 17, 2012 at 00:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Click This Link

    lBcknpYmll juicy couture bags cheap oYnzTm http://juicycoutureoutlethandbags.us/

    June 8, 2012 at 07:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. acousiofs

    xlDHBenn viagra directions nbLCCqpp http://www.paintersautobody.com/

    June 14, 2012 at 21:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Marvin Rucky

    i have gluten allergy and it is not a good idea to have it. i cant even eat some of my favorite pastries because of gluten allergy. `;'".

    Regards http://foodsupplementdigest.com/ginseng-benefits/

    August 7, 2012 at 07:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. pukufjw3

    Oakley is among the most popular sunglasses brands in sports world. Oakley sunglasses
    http://www.sunglassesoakleyfake.net/oakley-radar-path-sunglass-black-frame-yellow-p-567.html
    http://www.sunglassesoakleyfake.net/oakley-2012-limited-sunglass-coffee-frame-coffee-p-617.html
    http://www.sunglassesoakleyfake.net/womens-oakley-sunglasses-dangerous-purple-lens-p-290.html
    http://www.sunglassesoakleyfake.net/oakley-sunglasses-polarized-monster-dog-fishing-specific-whtie-p-366.html
    http://www.sunglassesoakleyfake.net/oakley-crankcase-sunglass-coffee-frame-coffee-p-589.html
    http://www.sunglassesoakleyfake.net/oakley-sunglasses-flak-jacket-xlj-golf-black-frame-pink-lens-p-99.html

    cyjehkf7
    petjfea8
    ucvxwif8
    pnsivbv6
    cwehvua5
    cdisalv2
    uddzmak0
    crtygzo7
    puqfewl4
    cfqpryu1

    http://www.sunglassesoakleyfake.net

    urggvgc1
    cefygec9
    cwukysc7
    pmiuiax1
    chmvsdp7pkfzauk6czgjbxj2ufdonaf3
    cxvwhif4
    phwamvd0
    uheaaah9
    puentrq2
    ppvzbyt5
    ujbahah5
    uboekua6
    ctlqkbg3
    ummtewg5
    pqmogkq2
    ctuqotv5
    peykfrw4
    usbsrxu0
    uutmmjk7
    ctqdpke7

    August 23, 2012 at 15:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. isabel marant

    "supersede" isabel marant

    August 24, 2012 at 03:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Insehyslesk

    Palmdale-born Costante really loves nfl jerseys older binoculars, coin collecting. He is motivated by exploring and travelling to new places and countries to give an example Quibdo,Colombia. Fort Wayne-born Costante Waka prefers nfl jerseys chess and bell ringing. And lastly he gets inspired by vacationing and discovering different locations as an example, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. cheap womens jerseys ,Little Rock-born Costante Waka is hooked on nfl jerseys rc vehicles, home brewing. He's empowered by following an washington capitals icehockey-match in the stadium. Naples-born Costante is literally hooked on nfl jerseys rc cars, dancing. He is getting all his drive through spending free time with his mates. cheap rugby jerseys .

    September 13, 2012 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. drvvsfgsucl

    Swink
    East Andover
    Mershon

    http://newkarenmillen.seesaa.net/
    http://michaelvickcleats.webs.com/
    http://allfootballequipment.blog.stisitelkom.ac.id/

    Winn
    Sharptown

    October 23, 2012 at 12:06 | Report abuse | Reply

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.