Whether or not someone with celiac needs to use gluten free body products, such as shampoo is a huge controversy. Many doctors and scientists say it is unnecessary to use gluten free body products. The general consensus is that there is something else in the product people are reacting to or they have an allergy to the gluten ingredients; such as a wheat allergy.
Many with celiac, especially those who have experienced DH either before or after diagnosis say no gluten in their body products is important, because they do react to those products..
Personal experiences tells me other wise!
I have been to many allergists since I was a teenager and NEVER has any allergy shown up in any of their testing! Check out my post about Urticaria. I had chronic hives from the time I was 17 years old, until I was 34 and finally diagnosed with celiac disease! I had a DH rash from my shampoo, conditioner, and other body products 3 years after going gluten free. (No pictures of the rash because I wasn’t blogging back then. I was just trying to survive another medical problem!)
I have worked with many people who have celiac who have similar experiences to mine. Most will tell you that doctors and scientists are wrong about body products and their recommendations! While there are many with celiac that don’t seem to react to gluten on the skin, there are many that do!
My good friend, who has celiac, used a hand soap that contained oatmeal (they aren’t using purity protocol oats in their body products) and broke out in a DH rash for 4 months!!! I have heard so many stories like this and had members of my family and myself experience similar issues. We won’t use gluten filled body products.
It’s a big pet peeve and for good reason!!!
One of my pet peeves is when a company tells me their products are gluten free and then they turn out not to be! One of the biggest problems is with hydrolyzed gluten ingredients (usually wheat). In fact, it was hydrolyzed vegetable protein (from wheat) that caused my first horrible outbreak with DH! (Dermatitis Herpetiformis) It was in my shampoo, conditioner, body wash and hairspray, from a company that claimed their products were gluten free!
In fact, I had used these products for more than 10 years! When I called and told them what was happening and why I was upset I got a shpill about how gluten can’t harm me through my skin because the protein is too big and would have to be ingested.
Then, why do I get DH from gluten ingredients?!!!!
Hmmm! Here I am living this experience and being told I am wrong about my own experience! Plus, I am very vigilant about being gluten free! After I quit using their products, went through some scary medications (almost killed me!), and had a steroid shot; finally my skin quit itching and blistering, but it took many months for this to happen! (6-7 from start to finish)
The only thing that changed were the body products! I was eating the same. I removed a few things from my diet when I started breaking out, but their removal didn’t help. (flax seed and coconut flour) I was able to eat these things, without a problem, when the DH finally went away! It’s been years and I haven’t had another incident because I am diligent about checking all products: food, vitamins and body products for gluten sources. (Also, I’m NOT allergic to wheat! I have been tested for wheat allergies many, many, many times!)
What Does Hydrolyzed Mean?
It means it has gone through a process that breaks the protein down into smaller pieces. Does this mean the protein is now gone and demolished? I don’t think so, it is just altered. In my opinion, (remember, I am neither a scientist nor a doctor) it is no more gone than an egg that has been whipped and put into a recipe with other ingredients! It still contains egg and all of it’s properties.
If the gluten protein is too big to be absorbed through the skin, doesn’t that mean breaking it into pieces, allows it to now be absorbed?! Just thinking out loud here.
Other names for hydrolyzed wheat
Hydrolyzed wheat may also go by this name wheat oligosaccharides or phyto peptides. It is used to improve moisture in the skin and strengthen the hair. It is used in a lot of cosmetics and unfortunately is not considered to have side-effects (an allergen), even though they know there are people who react to it!
How does that make sense?! They claim there are no side effects and then make a note that some people do have reactions to it! (Same source as wheat oligosaccharides.)
Interesting. . .
So, this blogger wrote about the difference between penetrating the skin and absorbing through the skin. Penetrating the skin layer means it gets through the top layer/s of skin, but doesn’t get into the body. Absorption is where, what is put on your skin absorbs through the layers of skin and makes it’s way into the body’s system; the blood stream.
My scary medication incident, that went along with my DH, was because they tried to treat it orally (and because I have a liver disease that didn’t handle the medication well, but the medication made no difference in calming things down or making me feel better), however, I didn’t ingest the gluten, it was on my skin. Perhaps, another reason for the medication not working, as expected, has to do with the difference between penetration and absorption and that the gluten ingredients made it deep enough to cause a reaction, but not deep enough to be in the blood stream. (My best guess)
I still don’t think I’m allergic, per se.
The Shampoo I Use
After my DH experience, I called Herbal Essence from the grocery store to check on their ingredients. Because body products are not food, they don’t have the same labeling rules. They do not have to say the source of their ingredients (derived from wheat), unless they want to. In fact, they can call it anything they want!
*Caution: if you ask if products are gluten free, they will probably say yes if they are using hydrolyzed ingredients. Remember that broken protein? Tests have only been made to find the whole protein, not it’s fragments and they are unable to tell us if the broken protein is safe or not. Many people still get sick with hydrolyzed gluten and it isn’t considered safe for those that need to be gluten free! (In food products)
I felt comfortable with the answers I got from Herbal Essence and began using their products. I love that they are inexpensive and I love what they do for my hair!
What made me love them even more!
(I am not being paid or compensated in any way by Herbal Essence for this endorsement! I am, however, an Amazon Affiliate and make a small profit, through Amazon, but your price remains the same.)
I was on a page where people were talking about Herbal Essence. Someone was asking the group if it was gluten free. I went out to the Herbal Essence website and found the following: they have an amazing glossary of ALL their ingredients! They explain why they use these ingredients and which products they are in.
I do, however, wish they included more info about where those ingredients are derived from, but this is far better than most companies give! Not to mention that some of the names they use are ridiculous!!! I have googled some of the ingredients just to find more info on them, because they don’t make sense.
Knowledge is power!!!
With the help of Herbal Essences’ glossary I know which products to avoid! There are only two, that I can find, that are problematic: Smooth Collection Conditioner and Shine Collection Conditioner. Both products contain Hydrolyzed wheat protein and Hydrolyzed wheat starch.
My favorite Herbal Essence products
I use the Color Me collection which makes my hair feel so good! The others, below, are ones my girls frequently use.
*Talk to your stylist about gluten ingredients when you get your hair colored. Some dyes do contain gluten.
For Me It Is A Definite Yes!
When I broke out in a DH rash I was scratching until I bled and still wanted to scratch more! I had chronic hives (urticarial) for 17-18 years and the DH rash was more miserable than the hives had been! It was next to impossible to not scratch! DH has blisters and they itch uncontrollably! I was even scratching in my sleep!!!
I have anxiety over using soap and other body products because I NEVER want to experience this again! So, for me, it is a definite yes to gluten free body products!!!
Have you had a similar experience?
Please let us know about your experience. What have you found works best for you?