Is Gluten Bad for your Skin?


The Gluten-free diet seems to be all the rage lately, yet a lot of people still aren’t quite sure what it all means. Roughly 1% of people have Celiac disease, a condition where their small intestine can not process Gluten, a protein not only found in wheat, but also barley and rye. However, outside of celiac sufferers there are millions more people that have gluten sensitivity.


How do I know if I have a gluten sensitivity?

 As I mentioned before, Celiac is a disease few people have and can easily be tested by a doctor. Though a person may test negative for Celiac, they may still show symptoms of a gluten sensitivity. Some symptoms include:


  • Headaches

  • Brain fog/lethargy

  • Depression/anxiety

  • Numbness in the arms or legs

  • Joint/muscle pain

  • Bloating

  • Constipation/diarrhea

  • Hair loss

  • Skin problems


Gluten and Your Skin

 Let’s delve deeper into that last symptom. An intolerance to Gluten can show up on the skin in many ways, not just acne. Below I have listed some known skin conditions attributed to gluten sensitivity and what they are.


Dermatitis Herpetiformis

An auto immune disorder that is always linked with an intolerance to Gluten. This condition is best described as looking like a rash, or little red, blistery bumps that are visibly not acne.



An inflammatory condition characterized by scaling, redness, and flakiness. Usually appears on the hands, feet, and scalp.



Just like Psoriasis, Eczema is also an inflammatory condition with similar characteristics. However, Eczema will show up on other areas of the body including the face (around the eyes and nose is especially common).



More commonly known as Hives, are red or skin-colored bumps that can appear on the skin from an allergic reaction.



Acne is a broad term which really runs the gamut. Working in the treatment room for the last 11 years, I have seen all sorts of acne. I have come to believe that gluten sensitivity shows up in acne form in a few ways.

 Type 4 Acne, or Cystic Acne, are large, swollen cysts that can not be extracted. There are many reasons for Cystic Acne. Hormonal changes and diet I believe are the most common.

 An abundance of closed comedones in various areas on the skin, especially the forehead has been a big indication of a food sensitivity. Comedones come in 2 forms: open (more popularly referred to as “blackheads”) and closed (known as “whiteheads”, though they are actually just flesh-colored bumps under the skin.)

 Breakouts always appearing on the forehead of any kind. As mentioned in a previous post, the forehead represents the stomach and small intestine. If you are breaking out in this area, it usually means something you are eating.

 Though Gluten sensitivity is more common than ever, it may not be the reason for your skin problems. Other food sensitivities can also come from sugar and dairy products. If you think you have a sensitivity to Gluten or any of these foods, I recommend trying an elimination diet (eliminating these foods for at least 2 weeks then slowly introducing them back in). I always recommend to my clients to get a facial before starting one of these diets so you are starting with a clean slate. Please consult a healthcare professional before making any rapid decisions.



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