This question came from Janelle Pugh and is an excellent and often-asked one.
The current medical understanding is that the gluten molecule is too big to be absorbed through the skin. With that said, it is okay to use gluten-containing products that can’t be ingested in any way, such as shampoos, hair products, lotions and makeup that does not touch the mouth/lips.
HOWEVER, and this is a big counterpoint, many cosmetics and body products can unknowingly be ingested. Lipstick is the best example as it is often licked off or ingested when eating food. All people with celiac disease should avoid gluten-containing lip products. Another good example is hand lotion. We eat with our hands. So, if you wash your hands before eating, put on a gluten-containing hand lotion to counteract the drying effect of the soap, and then handle the food you are eating with your newly lubed up hands, you can also ingest gluten. Nail biters, thumb suckers and any other person that often brings their fingers/hands to their mouth should also be wary of the lotions they use.
While most shampoos and body lotions are okay for adults, children are a different story. Most adults know to keep their mouth closed while washing their hair, but children are more likely to ingest the soapy water while rinsing their hair. So, it is a good idea for children’s shampoos to be gluten free.
Toothpaste, mouthwash and other oral care products present a different case, as they are definitely ingested several times a day. Many oral care brands do contain gluten and so it is important to purchase gluten free products.This entry was posted in Ask The Gluten Free RD, Gluten Free Lifestyle and tagged celiac, celiac disease, Gluten, gluten free, gluten free cosmetics, gluten free lotions, gluten free toothpaste, gluten in body products, gluten in cosmetics, gluten in lotions, gluten in makeup, gluten in shampoos. Bookmark the permalink.← NFCA’s Critical Research Study: Gluten in MedicationsFood as Medicine in Celiac Disease: Nutrition Beyond the Gluten Free Diet →