Gluten and Celiac Disease
Celiac Disease Foundation describes gluten as a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It’s in breads, pastas, cereals, soups, baked goods, sauces, beer, and salad dressings.
Celiac disease is a condition in which your immune system has abnormal sensitivity to gluten. It can develop at any age.
In children below two years old, celiac disease manifests through chronic diarrhea, abdominal distention, loss of appetite, and impaired growth. For adults, it’s headaches, bone or joint pain, tiredness, abdominal pain, and dermatitis herpetiformis, which affects 15% to 25% of celiac disease sufferers.
One other skin disease commonly associated with gluten sensitivity is atopic dermatitis, a type of eczema.
Gluten and the Skin
People with eczema are likely to have gluten sensitivity. Likewise, those with celiac disease are three times more likely to have eczema, although it is not apparent why.
While the cause of eczema remains unclear, experts have associated it to the immune system, digestive system, and general predispositions. Just like eczema, experts are uncertain about the mechanisms leading to gluten intolerance or sensitivity.
One theory is that it happens due to the absence of the appropriate enzymes needed to digest gluten in your small intestine. As a result, the gluten is only partially broken down when it travels to the large intestine. This leads to not only gastrointestinal irritation but also itchy, painful skin reactions.
Exposure to gluten is said to cause itchy rashes that start as blisters on the elbows, back, and knees. These rashes may develop into lesions and cause new blisters to form.
Should You Remove Gluten from Your Diet?
People with celiac disease are highly advised to go gluten-free. Refusing to follow a no-gluten regimen and letting the disease advance can lead to additional serious health problems, such as Type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, infertility, migraines, and intestinal cancers.
For eczema patients, avoiding gluten may also prove beneficial. While triggers are not always caused by food sensitivities, many sufferers claim that eliminating gluten and dairy can make a difference. The National Eczema Association maintains that “there is no doubt . . . some foods seem to be inflammatory,” so going gluten-free and dairy-free may have significant benefits.
But before a drastic diet shift, get a test for food sensitivities first. Cutting out some foods prematurely may give you false or negative results. See a doctor who takes a functional approach to skin problems and delves into the underlying causes.
While following your doctor’s advice, remember to apply Mometasone Furoate (Elica®) cream as prescribed to ease current symptoms.