September 8th, 2010
02:00 PM ET

Does eating gluten cause eczema?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Wednesdays, it's Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the
American Cancer Society.

Question asked by L. Rodriguez, Orange County, California

I have suffered from eczema for many years. I changed doctors last year and she thinks that my skin condition may be a result of being allergic to gluten.

Since I have an HMO, she cannot test me for the allergy because they will not pay for it. I have tried going gluten free and the skin condition got better but did not go away. Is there anything that I can do to be sure I was given the proper diagnosis before completely changing my diet and life?

Expert answer

You ask a fascinating question about a very common disease, much of which was first described only in the past 60 years.

Celiac disease is also called gluten-sensitive enteropathy and nontropical sprue. It is an allergy to gluten in the diet. People with this disease often have mild abdominal discomforts such as bloating and gas after consumption of breads and cereals that contain gluten. Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye, and oats. Some have more serious symptoms such as bowel mal-absorption, abdominal pain, diarrhea and nutrient or vitamin deficiency. Children with it can have severe malnutrition and growth impairment.

The treatment of a serious gluten allergy is a gluten-free diet, which has a lot of meat, fruit, milk and potatoes. Many grocery stores are starting to carry gluten-free foods. Restaurants in Europe and Australia commonly advertise gluten-free meals. Abdominal symptoms generally improve within a few weeks of changing to a gluten free diet.

This disease is primarily found in whites of Northern European ancestry. It is estimated that 1 in every 300 to 1 in every 500 Northern Europeans have some form of it, usually with relatively mild non-specific abdominal symptoms. This disease was once thought to be one that began in childhood and infancy, and some children eventually grew out of it. It is now realized that some children do go into remission and may relapse later. Also, the prevalence of the disease increases with age, meaning some people develop it as they age. Some will develop first symptoms in their 50s or 60s.

Patients are at higher risk for Type 1 diabetes, mellitus, collagen vascular diseases, autoimmune thyroid disease. Bone mineral deficiencies such as osteopenia and osteoporosis have also been noted. Uncontrolled celiac disease is also associated with a small increased risk of a number of malignancies. There is no special cancer screening recommended for patients with celiac disease.

The disease can be diagnosed using blood tests that measure the amount of immunoglobulin that binds to the proteins gliadin and endomysium. The classic definition of celiac disease includes atrophy of parts of the small bowel as seen on biopsy. A series of small bowel biopsies is often done to confirm it. The biopsies can be done through an endoscopy, in which a fiber-optic tube is placed in the mouth and down into the small bowel or through some even less invasive procedures.

There are some skin illnesses associated with celiac disease. It is very frequently associated with dermatitis herpetiformis, an itchy red raised rash with fluid-filled vesicles. This rash is not related or caused by any of the herpes viruses, but has the name because the rash resembles that of the herpes viruses or shingles. It improves as the disease improves with diet modification.

Patients and their seemingly unaffected family members are more likely to have atopic dermatitis, which is also known as eczema. The hallmark of eczema is itching with the skin scaling, crusting and an oozing of a serous or transparent fluid. Eczema can be worsened by stress, heat, dry air and sweating.

You actually may not have celiac disease or at least you may not have the clinical manifestations of a gluten allergy and you can still have eczema related to celiac disease. It would be preferable that you get the testing to confirm or disprove the diagnosis of gluten allergy. Even if the tests were negative, many physicians would suggest a two month trial of a gluten-free diet to see if the eczema improves. Most would advocate continuing the diet if there seemed to be some improvement in the rash and even if it did not clear up fully.

soundoff (91 Responses)
  1. Amy

    Some expert!! Celiac disease is not an allergy. If it were I'd take a benedryl and have a big box of Crispy Creme Doughnuts and a Coors light! It's an autoimmune disease, get your information straight.

    September 8, 2010 at 14:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • m

      Agreed! It's not an allergy.

      September 8, 2010 at 17:13 | Report abuse |
    • Cwink

      Totally agree! And mild abdominal pain??? RIGHT!

      September 8, 2010 at 19:00 | Report abuse |
    • Plenum

      Celiac disease is a type IV hypersensitivity reaction (T cell mediated), which is a form of allergy. Taking Benadryl and Ranitidine (Zantac) doesn't help because they target the histamine response, which is a type I hypersensitivity reaction. Reactions against latex, nickel, and poison ivy (all of which are commonly referred to as allergies) are type IV hypersensitivity reactions. Dr. Brawley is correct.

      September 8, 2010 at 19:27 | Report abuse |
    • Alan

      Celiac disease is just one end of a broad spectrum of issues regarding gluten. You may test negative for Celiac but still have a gluten sensitivity. My wife had rheumatoid arthritis, for example, and it is now in remission after going gluten-free for a year. I suffered with hay-fever since childhood, but it is now gone after being gluten-free for a year, and my stomach pains have disappeared as well. Neither of us are Celiac. If you have any kind of inflammatory disease or intestinal issues (including irritable bowel), do yourself a favor and eliminate gluten (and dairy as well) from your diet. Your doctor will likely not help you in this endeavor, since they have minimal training with food/nutrition, so read as much as you can, talk to people about their experiences, and push back when your doctor prescribes medication to treat something that is best handled via changes to your diet.

      September 9, 2010 at 07:55 | Report abuse |
    • Deb

      I agree with you all. Like Alan, I too tested negative for Celiac time and time again yet suffered for horrible joint pain for 10+ years. FINALLY found a doctor who actually cared to figure it out vs. just handing out paid medication. The doctor did allergy testing for wheat, rye, barley, etc. all separate vs. testing for celiac....and guess what. Positive for a wheat allery. I follow the same diet as someone with Celiac and feel great.

      It does bother me that this artical seems to concentrate of the 'stomach' issues of Celiac. In my research I found hundreds of different symptoms of the disease.

      September 9, 2010 at 11:44 | Report abuse |
    • Liz

      OK, so the focus of this article is eczema and gluten and I can't speak to that (because I'm not an expert!) But it is SO frustrating to see an expert give out bad information at a place people trust like CNN Health. Bottom line: CELIAC DISEASE IS NOT AN ALLERGY. Plenum, you are right when you say Celiac Disease is a hypersensitivity reaction (also known as an exaggerated immune response). All allergies (like a wheat allergy) and all autoimmune disorders (like Celiac Disease) are hypersensitivity reactions. But in an allergy your body overreacts by trying to get rid of something that doesn’t actually hurt you (like pollen) and in autoimmune disorders your body actually attacks your own healthy cells by mistake! With Celiac disease your body attacks your intestines. It can make you physically really uncomfortable, just like some food allergies, but in the long term it can really damage your intestines permanently. Those are two VERY different things.

      September 9, 2010 at 12:21 | Report abuse |
    • Liz

      If you think you may have celiac, describe your symptoms to your primary doctor and get a referral to a Gastrointestinal doctor who CAN order the test within HMO insurance! That’s how I got diagnosed! Do research and figure out if you think it is a rheumatologist you need or a nutrition consult...if your primary doc is not helpful, switch them. You can look for recommendation to allergy/nutrition/autoimmune savvy docs online!

      September 9, 2010 at 12:24 | Report abuse |
    • Ariana

      Alan is so right. I have had severe eczema since childhood, and the only thing (besides corticosteroids) that really did anything was to go on a raw foods diet, which is both gluten and dairy free. I tested negative for celiac, but nevertheless, eliminating gluten (not just wheat) from my diet did the trick. Just because doctors have not been able to definitevely figure everything out does not mean that we have to wait for their permission to do what's in our own best interest. If eliminating gluten ameliorates your health issues, then regardless of what any particular test says, go gluten free.

      November 7, 2010 at 19:10 | Report abuse |
    • Ankit

      Blotchy red skin?

      * Scaly patches with oozing
      * Incredible itching that keeps coming back
      * Skin that would heal and then break out again

      As a skin care specialist with a medical background, I wanted to be sure I wasn't missing something, so I took my son to a dermatologist. It was just as I expected. He sent us home with a bunch of creams and ointments to try.

      And I knew the terrible truth:

      “All Those Smelly Creams and Remedies Worked – For Awhile...But The Eczema Came Back Even Worse!”

      The eczema seemed hell-bent on vengeance for every thick cream and goopy ointment we tried – so I did something I thought I'd never try, but I felt like I owed it to my son to give him a better chance at fighting this condition than I ever had...

      “How a Natural Remedy Helped Cure My Son's Eczema – Permanently!”

      November 23, 2010 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
  2. GwenC

    Yup, this expert is way off base. Celiac and an alergy to wheat are 2 very different things. It is a nice write up on Celiac diesase, even if it does not address teh question about wheat allergies and exema.

    September 8, 2010 at 14:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Marisa

    MILD abdominal discomfort?? No one I know with Celiac Disease, including myself, only has MILD discomfort. It certainly cannot be true that only some of us suffer from it. Being glutened is a horrible, awful, gut-wrenching (literally) experience. This article does a good job of listing the symptoms but seems to downplay most of them as being just an annoying nuisance.

    September 8, 2010 at 15:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Sara

    For 23 years I struggled with blisters and itching on my fingers and the same small spot on my calf. This was compounded with serious autoimmune disorders. I was so very sick. I figured out the erruptions were linked to flour. Doctors did not help, even when I said (CLUE) the breakouts were related to flour and something else that I couldn't figure out. One allergist asked me to leave his office and refused to test me for food allergies, my internist told me it was topical and the first gastroenterologist just dismissed me. When I quit eating all starch my skin did get better most of the time, as well as the autoimmune disorders...some that I was told never would go away..went away. My fingers will be forever scarred and at one point my eyebrows and eyelashes even started falling out. I suffered and I mean suffered for 23 yrs. Why not test? I was tested not because I needed to know since I had already figured out it was gluten but to answer that question that all Drs. are compelled to ask ....'who diagnosed you?' Going forward, my response will be – I did and Dr....confirmed. If you have are gluten sensitive or intolerant, the preparation for the test can just push you over the edge and make the side effects of eating gluten far worse. I used to just insanely itch and now I run to a bathroom. For my 'test' which isn't even 100% accurate, I had to eat gluten every day for one month. If you've avoided gluten for years, you are just poisoning your system and you need to weigh the consequences. Trust yourself and don't rely on anyone else to put two and two together. Educate yourself. You may be more sensitive to sugars also. There is a connection. Nutrition, listening, and diagnostics are just not covered in med school. Maybe I have just been unfortunate to find Drs. that just studied which drugs to dispense when and how to justify it with whatever inadequate test can be given to cover a doctor from erroneous lawsuits. It's a sad situation that we are all paying for now. Best of luck, there is great info. online to help you figure this out.

    September 8, 2010 at 15:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Leslie

    Celiac is not a "new" disease. In the "olden days" (circa my great-grandfather) it was termed malabsorbtion or malnurishment. The term celiac and its characteristics originated in Greece in the first century AD. Over the centuries it was known to be related to diet and in the early 20th century the dietary relation to grains was firmly established. Perhaps keeping to the topic at hand – eczema/skin allergies and its relation to gluten – would have been prudent. Expert indeed!

    September 8, 2010 at 15:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Bobby

    The answer to the original question is YES. Stop eating gluten for a few weeks and you will be amazed how much better you will feel, and the itching will go away.

    September 8, 2010 at 15:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Shannon

      Going gluten free doesn't help everybody. I have atopic dermatitis and I tried going gluten free for two months to see if it would help alleviate my excema and it didn't do anything. You have to know what works for you and what doesn't.

      September 8, 2010 at 17:14 | Report abuse |
    • Kathie

      It takes 9-12 months to get gluten out of your system to see true healing. AND most people THINK they are GF and they aren't. It took me 6 months to learn all the hidden glutens I was eating. Don't kid yourself that 2 months or a few weeks are going to change that much in your system!

      September 8, 2010 at 22:28 | Report abuse |
    • Tzi

      Gluten is not always the cause of ezcema. I get it from eggs, for example. If you want to really narrow it down, you ahve to do an elimination diet with various common causes.

      September 9, 2010 at 01:01 | Report abuse |
  7. Lynne

    Hope that people are helped with celiac diagnosis and solutions. On the subject of atopic dermatitis, it was never confirmed by a physician but my arm eczema was possibly triggered by cleaning solutions on school desks and partly by dish soap when doing the family dishes. It's school time again and I didn't know if the information might help some students and/or parents figure out the source of their arm eczema. Long sleeves helped some in the winter unless my lower arms were already broken out. I just didn't realize that I was more sensitive to cleansers at that time in my life. I wouldn't expect special treatment except to swipe the desk top with a water-dampened cloth before class started which would probably have helped reduce the itchy, oozy reactions.

    September 8, 2010 at 15:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Carol

    A few important clarifications: 1) Research shows 1 in 133 Americans have celiac disease, 1 in 266 worldwide. Most are undiagnosed. 2) Symptoms of celiac disease are diverse and not limited to the digestive system. Many undiagnosed celiacs have no outward symptoms. 3) Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition, not an allergy. 4) The treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet for life, not just until symptoms subside. For more complete info, see the Univ. of Maryland or Columbia Univ. research sites: http://www.celiaccenter.org/celiac/faq.asp and http://www.celiacdiseasecenter.columbia.edu/A_Patients/A02-FAQ.htm.

    September 8, 2010 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • James

      Thanks for providing these links.

      September 8, 2010 at 22:31 | Report abuse |
  9. Nicki

    I experimented with my 8 year old son. He has a mild form of asthma (cold induced asthma) and I pulled him off gluten. He has not had an asthma attack in 2 years. I haven't had to give him any medication since pulling him off gluten. He does not have celiacs and he is not allergic, he is intolerant. Doctors don't always have the answers, you have to advocate for yourself.

    September 8, 2010 at 16:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Christine

    Taking borage oil helped my eczema tremendously. It's available over the counter, so if gluten is not your problem, try borage oil capsules. Dr. Joel Fuhrman who writes books on healthy eating suggested it and it does work!

    September 8, 2010 at 16:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Fred

      I swear by borage oil as well. Started taking it 2 years ago. After a few weeks, no sign of eczema and my skin is clear.

      September 8, 2010 at 17:36 | Report abuse |
  11. Tim

    Celiac is WAY more common than doctors think. Since going off gluten a year ago, I have had (literally) dozens of symptoms go away and get better, and I've dropped 30 pounds. And yes, I had psoriasis, and it got a lot better, but you have to be patient. It was the last symptom that went away and I still have a little bit of it. Your immune system has been messed up for a long time, and some aspects take a long time to heal (my chronic acne, on the other hand, went away in weeks).

    One warning: the blood test the doctors will give you is NOT ACCURATE. It has an incredibly high false negative rate, and the doctors simply don't want to believe it, because it's the only test they know about. But there's a lab that specializes in testing that uses a different kind of test that's much more accurate. Unfortunately, I have no idea why, but the medical community is incredibly ignorant of this rampant problem.

    But check this lab out: enterolab.com

    I'm not affiliated with it in any way, but they do great work, and their test is much more sensitive and accurate than the blood test. And don't ever ask gastroenterologists about Celiac disease. Most of them are totally hostile to it. I don't know why, maybe it's because they know half their patients are really Celiacs and a drug-free diagnosis doesn't make them any money on "Irratable Bowel Syndrome" drugs.

    September 8, 2010 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kathie

      I used Enterolab for me and my children. They can test if you have a DNA predisposition and if it is currently active in your stool. We all have double genes of Celiac and Gluten intollerance that are active. I had 2 endoscopy's that said I was not Celiac...WRONG! I really recommend Enterolab and I too am not affiliated with them other than a satisfied customer.

      September 8, 2010 at 22:26 | Report abuse |
  12. Ellen

    I'm glad that some of the people who have commented have corrected some of the errors in the article. Indeed, celiac disease is not an allergy. I got a tentative diagnosis at age 58–the biopsy showed the characteristic damage to my small intestine, although my blood tests were negative. When I didn't improve very much on a strict gluten-free diet, I was sent to the Celiac Center at the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston. The director of the center told me that (1) about 5% of celiacs have negative blood tests and (2) older patients take much longer to heal. So don't expect miracles right away on a gluten-free diet. Over time, however, the improvements are impressive. For me, one important result is that I'm depression-free.

    It is important to realize that just because you are eating food made from gluten-free ingredients, that doesn't mean that you are not consuming gluten. There is the issue of "cross-contamination." I had to replace most of the pans and utensils in my kitchen. Watch out for toasters that have been used to toast regular bread, or a spread (butter, jam, peanut butter) from which someone else has taken a swipe with a knife with crumbs. Some of my medications and cosmetics had gluten in them. It takes a very concentrated effort (eg, calling all the manufacturers) to determine if everything that you may ingest is gluten free. But it is definitely worth the effort.

    September 8, 2010 at 18:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Testament

    An allergy? Usually allergic reactions to foods are muuuuuuch different than with ppl who have Celiac disease. its called Celiac DISEASE for a reason Not ALLERGY.

    So for example; Peanuts or Kiwis generally pplz tongues or throats swell, faces swell, skin can get rashy etc and typically need a shot or some sort of medicine to calm it down.
    ppl w/ Celiac DISEASE experience extremely painful stomach pains, diarreha (no i can't spell that word I kno so get off it already.) Skin problems which are linked to the malnutrition aspects of Celiac. So if this expert says it is an allergy where is the allergy medicine for it? The Benedryl (nope cant spell that one either moving on) doesn't work, shots don't work, creams don't work. So where is it? Its not an allergy. Period.

    This so called expert obviously knows nothing of this disease. I have a friend with this disease + uncontrolled diabetes. He is always in and out of the hospital, cannot work because he is so sickly. Outward he is extremely thin, extremely pale with the red puffy eyes and cannot eat anything with gluten in it or he has massive episodes of shear gut tearing pain. My best friend thinks I may have this disease as well because of what i go thru when i eat any and all foods. Idk if i have it or not but i can say that any stomach pain or even bowel pains are no mere nuissances....They are for both he and I so bad it cant be described in any way.

    And I have read that if not taken care of this disease can lead to cancer. I know of no allergy that can go that far.
    So my lesson here...Listen to the ppl with the experience and not the ppl who claim to be experts or get their information from books (which in the end are OTHER pplz experiences not their own.)

    September 8, 2010 at 18:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • partnertoaceliac

      Agreed that Celiac is NOT an allergy, however my partner (diagnosed with the stool test) has discovered that when she accidentally gets food with gluten she bloats extremely bad, especially around her ankles and stomach. Believe it or not, benadryl does help with relieving the swelling in fairly quick order. Unfortunately it doesn't do anything for the stomach cramps or other symptoms.

      September 9, 2010 at 13:07 | Report abuse |
  14. Glenn

    I have celiac disease and I have two comments.
    One, skin problems experienced by celiacs may be partially caused by some skin lotions which contain gluten. If you have stopped eating gluten but still have skin problems, it may be in a lotion you are using. It would be best to check.
    Two, oats apparently does not have the same type of gluten as wheat and barley. It can be consumed safely by many celiacs, including myself. However, some oat products are contaminated with wheat or barley, so caution is necessary.

    September 8, 2010 at 18:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kathie

      Most all oats in the USA are contaminated because of the equipment they are processed on.

      September 8, 2010 at 22:30 | Report abuse |
    • JQA

      Get Quaker Oats in the round cardboard box. It is processed in a plant that only processes oats, and a friend who has serious celiac disease does not react to them. Another option is to make your own using oat groats and an oat roller. I prefer this method, as the oatmeal made from this is very different in texture and much tastier.

      September 9, 2010 at 01:14 | Report abuse |
    • Hajo (Custom Choice Cereal)

      Watch out with oats! Most of them are indeed cross-contaminated, and I can only strongly advise against Quaker oats. However, there is a company with the innovative name "Gluten-free Oats" that has, you guessed it, gluten-free oats because they are grown on separate fields, harvested with dedicated equipment, and processed in a dedicated gluten-free facility. Another alternative is Bob's Red Mill who also offers gluten-free oats.

      And I have to to agree with the other point as well: celiac disease is not an allergy but a genetic autoimmune disease. It was also first described by Aretaeus of Cappadocia in the 1st or 2nd century AD so I wouldn't really call it "new". This being said, it seems its prevalence has increased significantly over the recent decades, and research is not (yet) sure why this is the case.

      September 9, 2010 at 09:38 | Report abuse |
  15. Matt

    Not sure where to start, as the article is wrong on so many levels. That has to be the worst article I have read on Celiac disease I have ever read. What really got me was "The treatment of a serious gluten allergy is a gluten-free diet, which has a lot of meat, fruit, milk and potatoes", let alone the description of the symptoms. Way off base.

    September 8, 2010 at 20:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. MD

    My cousin thinks that's what she has, our whole family has eczema. But it is related to a mold allergy in the breads, etc., not the gluten. And if you have way too much yeast and sugar in your system – it causes your normal candida to overreact – produces sweaty, smelly body odor/or feet and eczema – I had a huge red welt on my knee and areas on the soles of my feet. Folks, stay off cheeses and anything fermented for a month and you will see how much better you feel. Yeast can totally wreack havoc with your stomach and intestinal flora – I have had horrible intestinal problems – got rid of yeast and got rid of all symptoms.

    September 8, 2010 at 21:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Kerry

    The response from Dr. Brawley is inaccurrate on many levels and being a celiac myself ( and being a RN) – I find his medical advice faulty. My suggestion is that his advice not be followed and find your own physician for a diagnosis. There are a number of great websites that address the gluten free foods and the diet identified in the article is an outdated diet at best. Please CNN – find yourself another source for this disorder as Dr. Brawley's information is not current.

    September 9, 2010 at 00:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. JQA

    Celiac disease is only one of the forms of gluten allergy. There are three genes associated with gluten allergy, one of the genes is also associated with schizophrenia, another also associated with MS. I found I was allergic to gluten two years ago, and it took 18 months for all my symptoms to go away. Symmetrical patches of itchy flaky skin on mirrored locations on my legs, feet, arms, and hands were one symptom. They took 13 months to go away. The inability to focus both eyes on objects at reading distance was another symptom. This one went away in about a month and a half, and returns for a couple of days every time I accidently eat gluten at a restaurant, usually in a sauce the chef says does not have wheat in it. My eyes react in about 30 minutes, and I can no longer read without glasses. I take a herbal remedy called glutenflam that does seem to help, but as I have accidently eaten gluten only four times, I have not had the chance to test its effectiveness thoroughly. One thing that has helped me and others with autoimmune reactions is Kaprex AI. It works overnight to calm the immune response, and has recently saved the life (his words) of a friend who is extremely reactive to gluten, even tiny amounts, as in soy sauce. Gluten allergy doesn't always show up as celiac, and it didn't in my case.

    My understanding from what I have studied is that 80% of the people with Northern European ancestry have one of the three genes associated with gluten allergy. There is a gene test that costs about $300 that can identify the genes in you; better test than the blood test. Stress turns the genes on, and it only takes one of them turned on to create some form of autoimmune response to gluten. I don't know where Dr. Brawley got the 1 in 300 and 1 in 500; I have never read that ratio, and am certain, just based on the circle of people I know, that the number of people with gluten allergy is far greater than this.

    Insurance companies are figuring this out. If you check that you have gluten allergy on your application for medical insurance, you most probably would have been turned down until the recent legislation passed. Now you will just have your rates increased.

    I agree with Matt, that this article has to be one of the worst I have ever read on the subject. Dr. Brawley appears to have no sense of what real nutrition is; his treatment diet is just ridiculous. A gluten free diet is an extremely healthy diet, I have found, as my body no longer has that "itch" inside that causes one to just try to find the food that will scratch it. After giving up gluten my diet completely changed, and I could eat things I was never able to handle before, such as red meat, which I now consume in small (4 ounce) bits about once a month. Plenty of vegetables, short on the grains, good fish, good poultry (for non-vegetarians), fresh fruit, eggs, well cooked legumes, the list goes on and on when it comes to good food. The only thing missing is gluten. If you don't eat processed food, it is a snap to give up gluten. The health and well being benefits are just great.

    September 9, 2010 at 01:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Beebs

    So many people incorrectly think that "gluten free" means simply giving up wheat. They try it for a few days or weeks, and when they see no improvement, they claim it was not a wheat issue. There are MANY hidden sources of wheat, both food and non food-such as the glue on envelopes and postage stamps, clothing dyes, cleaning products, wheat starch in packaging materials, anti caking agents in table salt, etc. First and foremost, people need to realize that if they consume ANY animal products-such as milk, eggs, meat, farmed fish, animal by products, etc-then they ARE taking in gluten. Most animals are fed a diet high in gluten grains-and those grains pass in to the animal products. Going gluten free is MUCH more than just avoiding the grain itself-you have to avoid ALL sources of it for it to work. This article fails to address the question, and is highly inaccurate. Unfortunately, even many (most) of the top allergy doctors in this country are pretty clueless about how to properly do a true gluten elimination diet.

    September 9, 2010 at 02:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Rachel

    Hi all, ,my daughter was tested a few years ago by an endoscopy for the main intolerances, and came up with severe lactose intolerance, which has since been corrected by diet and Lactaid pills. I believe her stomach tissue was also tested for the other ones, but I will have to dig out the paperwork. My question, is there a difference between gluten intolerance, and being allergic, or is it basically the same? Sorry for the odd question, but I mean some people have an allergy to millk, and some have lactose intolerance. My daughter can drink milk, just lactose-free, so my question is, if she passed the gluten test in one respect, could she also have an adverse reaction to it in another way? Thanks, sorry if this isn't super clear.

    September 9, 2010 at 02:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Karen

    Potatoes and dairy should not be included in a gluten-free diet. Same goes for other nightshades like eggplants, tomatoes, (bell) peppers etc. Also avoid legumes (including soy and peanuts), because they contain lectins, just like grains and nightshades do. Eggs could raise problems too. Celiac is an autoimmune disease and a leaky gut is probably the cause. If you want to know how you can reverse a leaky gut and stop autoimmune diseases, read this http://bit.ly/a9Gvjk

    September 9, 2010 at 04:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Mary

    Rachel, as the article mentions, there are several levels of reaction, some of which are medically recognized (the ones mentioned in the article) and some of which are not (as discussed in the comments). Even the tests for the worst kinds of reactions have a false-negative rate, so the only true test is to eliminate gluten and see what happens.

    I'm a bit put off by those who think that how they experienced Celiac Disease is the only way to experience Celiac Disease. There is a reason it is one of the most underdiagnosed conditions in America. Someone who walks into a clinic in severe pain with severe damage to their small intestine is the easy diagnosis. But most people don't have that kind of symptom; most people have the more non-specific symptoms discussed in the article. And yet we're still sick.

    September 9, 2010 at 06:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Joseph

    It is not the Gluten in Wheat, Rye, and Barley causing the Rashes, and most likely it is not an Allergy. The Gluten in each of those Grains is different in Chemical Structure, but the Cellulose in them is in a Group of Compounds called Beta-Glucans which are similar to what Bacteria and Fungi Produce, that cause your Immune System to attack the Bacteria and or Fungi. The Immune System to some people produces no Allergenic Antibodies and not Celiac Gluten Antibodies, but responds to the Beta-Glucans as if the Body is being Infected. The Beta-Glucans are also what causes Celiac Immune Systems to attack the three different Gluten Proteins and the Mucosa in the Body. Those who have immune Systems that just attack all the Mucosa in the Body often develop a High Antinuclear Antibody Reading or High ANA Level, as the Immune System also attacks the Cartilage throughout the Body, but will return to negative when you stop eating Foods with Beta-Glucans made from Cellulose found in Corn, Wheat, Rye, Barley, Mushrooms, Green Beans and Green Peas, and Microcrystalline Cellulose added to many Foods and Inert Ingredients of Medications.

    See this Google Doc I wrote abut my Battle with Beta-Glucans docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0Aa0Mw2e3zb1qZGhtM3hramZfMzg1Zm5wbjZuZ3A&hl=en

    September 9, 2010 at 08:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. vlad

    can acne be caused by gluten sensitivity?

    September 9, 2010 at 09:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Sencho

    Ms. Rodriguez, you're being treated by a disreputable quack. Eczema and psoriasis are more than likely symptoms of disturbances in your nervous system. I have suffered from psoriasis for nearly 15 years, and I too fell prey to snake oil salesmen like your doctor for far too long. Please don't make the same mistake that I and so many others have made by investing your time, hope and money in a doctor whose only real concern is keeping you coming back for more and more tests that will never cure you.

    September 9, 2010 at 09:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. kleentx

    I was diagnosed with eczema a few years ago. The dermatologist gave me a steroid ointment that semi-worked. It definately made worse by stress. However, my pain management doctor (of all people) told me that eating one or two avocados a day would help clear it up and IT WORKS! Of course, I can't afford to buy avocados all the time, but when I do the red, itchy, scaly blisters go away.

    September 9, 2010 at 09:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Shannon

      @kleentx, I've noticed that too that if I eat some avocado slices that my eczmea symptoms ease quite a bit. @Kathie, I also have some other factors associated with my eczema, such that my grandmother had it and my mom also has it. Over the years, I've learned what works and what doesn't work for me. Some of it has to do with diet, some of it has to do with what I use as far as cleansers and moisturizers. I also try to avoid what I know causes flare ups (which is stress and some detergents).

      September 9, 2010 at 10:13 | Report abuse |
  27. Itchy

    I had really bad eczema for years, which totally cleared up when I started drinking excessive amounts of water and quit drinking light beers (although darker beers dont' seem to affect my condition).

    September 9, 2010 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Sarah

    I quit eating sugar for three years and my eczema disappeared. Since I have been back on sugar, it's come back. So for me...it's related to sugar consumption...hard to stay away from the chocolate, that's for sure!

    September 9, 2010 at 10:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. questionauthority

    Dont miss the bigger picture. There are alot of things to be allergic to. My son took an allergy panel. About $100 (that I pd for myself) and found out that he was allergic to alot of things. Milk, Almonds, Soy. Some things i thought he would be allergic to like Peanuts were not on the list. I think it's probably a good idea to get one from time to time. Alergies change throught your life. Consider it a part of you health regimine. remove what you are allergic to and do you best to rotate your diet. I believe, eating the same thing over and over can cause a sensitivity to it.

    September 9, 2010 at 10:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Glenn

    Getting back to gluten intolerance...if you have a very itchy, blistery rash as described above, there is an inexpensive "test" for celiac disease. It is an inexpensive prescription sulfa drug called Dapsone. If you can get your doctor to prescribe it and your rash abates immediately, it is likely you have celiac disease. The Dapsone only treats the symptoms and can cause nerve damage, so it shouldn't be taken any longer than necessary.

    September 9, 2010 at 10:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Susan

    "Since I have an HMO, she cannot test me for the allergy because they will not pay for it."

    Pay for it yourself, little baby.

    It's a sad testament to our future as a species if we can't tolerate wheat, but I guess the people who have this are also the ones that think you can't do anything your insurance won't pay for.

    September 9, 2010 at 10:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. AMP

    Way off base!! Mild symptoms listed? Why only those? I have a friend who knows when he's got glutenized because he develops ARTHRITIS (another autoimmune disease) as a symptom. Nothing in the gut, no usual skin rash. Also, look out for things aggravated by celiac disease. I did not read thru all the comments but for GREAT info go to http://www.celiac.com.

    And to the questioner – go pay for the test yourself. HMOs pay some of yer medical bills, they DON'T run your life.

    September 9, 2010 at 12:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Deanna

    I have experienced mild eczema and my mother and brother have had it (pretty bad, at times). This might seem over-simplified, but we all switched our shampoo to Burt's Bees (which contains no harsh chemicals) and it has totally cleared up for all of us. Most shampoos contain known skin irritants.

    September 9, 2010 at 12:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Becki

      great suggestion, thank you. I have suffered from eczema my entire life. It's embarassing, itchy and just all around terrible. I got allergy testing and found I'm allergic to dust, cats, dogs, birch and oak. Not easy to stay away from. A NP suggested once that I try gluten free but just can't afford to really...plus I was hesitant based on an NP's "gut." Turns out she's no longer practicing. Anyway, I'll try Burt's Bees and please if you haven't tried it, try Cetaphil lotion; the kind in the jar. Best stuff on Earth. Really.

      September 9, 2010 at 13:59 | Report abuse |
  34. Jenny

    I have a gluten-wheat sensitivity which means I do not have full blown Celiacs but can not eat foods that contain wheat and gluten. I take a Zyrtec daily ....otherwise I can get hives and horrible stomach cramps. Any of the beers in the Budwiser family are ok for me to drink. When Bud is processed, there isn't any traces of wheat or gluten so it is safe. They can't advertise it as "Gluten Free" as it starts out with Barley. Redbridge is their gluten free beer made with Sorghum.

    September 9, 2010 at 12:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Ben

    I hope I'm not everstepping my bounds, but I'm compelled to share this with all eczema sufferers. I know of an AMAZING remedy for eczema that is botanically based, FDA approved, gluten free, and it's not sold in stores so most folks don't know about it. I don't think I'm allowed to share more here because of CNN's 'terms of service' for this post – but feel free to reach me at bzeitlin@westglen.com and I can share more with you – it's changed my wife's life – now she can sleep at night and enjoy life because her eczema is completely under control... Wow what a difference from where she's been before... She had tried EVERYTHING before and nothing worked. Now she's a new woman. It's up to you – we'd be delighted to share what we know with you...

    September 10, 2010 at 08:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Sarah

    Scanning through these comments, there are many people who have responded with personal cases related to a non-celiac gluten intolerance. It is important to understand that celiac disease is only one TYPE of gluten intolerances, among many. Many people suffer from various other intolerances, such as a wheat allergy. I found the book "Healthier Without Wheat" by Dr. Wangen to be extremely helpful in my understanding of the various forms of gluten intolerance and the ways in which to test for and treat those intolerances.

    September 11, 2010 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
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  39. Andrea

    This statement does not make any sense, "You actually may not have celiac disease or at least you may not have the clinical manifestations of a gluten allergy and you can still have eczema related to celiac disease." You don't have celiacs, but eczema could be related to celiacs completely contradicts itself. You either have celiacs or or you don't. Also this article fails to mention that excema is very common, many people have it and it isn't necessarily related to celiacs. Celiacs is not an allergy but an autoimmune disease. Sadly enough, many doctors really aren't knowledgeable about celiacs, and this "expert" answer validates this.

    December 4, 2010 at 02:18 | Report abuse | Reply
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  50. eczemacontagious.net

    I was recently diagnosed with gluten sensitivity and have had eczema all of my life. I have tried eliminating all gluten from my diet like the person that originally posed the question, and I too had some improvement but the eczema didn't completely disappear, much to my dismay. I think personally you have to choose your battles with your body. I do my best to avoid gluten and the numerous other foods I am allergic to but when I want that fat cheeseburger with fries I just go for it. Life is too short to give up everything delicious, all the time!!!

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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.