Can Gluten Make You Itch?

assortment of gluten products including bread and pasta

Gluten is the staple ingredient in many beloved foods, whether pasta, bread, soy sauce, or cereal. But gluten causes real health issues for some people, ranging from mild digestive symptoms and skin rashes to life-threatening allergic reactions.

Dermatitis herpetiformis (also known as gluten rash) is a skin condition that affects approximately 1 in 10 people with celiac disease. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity, such as wheat allergies, also tends to trigger itchy skin, linking to many related skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, or hives.

Throughout this post, we’re going to explore everything you need to know about:

  • The causes of celiac disease 
  • The key symptoms of dermatitis herpetiformis and wheat allergy
  •  How best to treat itchy skin caused by gluten sensitivity

Keep reading to learn more about how eating gluten could affect your skin health today, helping you tackle your itchy rash symptoms and get back to feeling your best.

What Is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease affecting the small intestine, which causes the body’s immune system to overreact in response to the naturally occurring gluten proteins found within many grains, such as wheat, rye, and barley.

As part of this autoimmune response, the small intestine becomes inflamed as the body begins to attack itself, disrupting the intestine lining and eventually causing poor nutrient absorption and gastrointestinal symptoms.


This autoimmune condition is believed to be caused by genetic factors. The risk of developing celiac disease is also higher if you already have other autoimmune disorders such as type 1 diabetes or thyroid disease, for example.


  • Abdominal pain including stomach cramps, bloating, gas, and vomiting
  • Diarrhea and constipation 
  • Muscle weakness or tingling or prickling sensation often in the hands, arms, legs, or feet
  • Increased risk of osteoporosis
  • Skin rashes 

You may notice that the symptoms of celiac disease mimic those of many other common digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome. Due to this, it’s vital to receive a correct diagnosis, achieved via an intestinal biopsy.

What Is Gluten Rash?

One of the lesser-known symptoms of celiac disease is dermatitis herpetiformis, which is more common among men than women.

This skin rash can be triggered by consuming even a minimal amount of gluten and may appear as soon as one hour after exposure.

The main symptoms include:

  • Itchy bumps across the skin of the knees, elbows, buttocks, lower back, and back of the neck may appear red on lighter skin tones and brown or purplish on darker skin tones.
  • These bumps may evolve into fluid-filled blisters that burst when scratched, leaving behind scarring marks.
  • Intense burning sensation

How Is Dermatitis Herpetiformis Diagnosed?

Especially if you notice the signs of gluten rash but haven’t yet received a diagnosis of celiac disease, it’s essential to consult your doctor immediately.

Typically, dermatitis herpetiformis is diagnosed via a physical examination, blood tests, and a small skin biopsy to check the antibodies below the skin’s surface.

What Is The Difference Between Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance, and Wheat Allergy?

While celiac disease is a life-long autoimmune disorder, a wheat allergy involves an immune (not an autoimmune) response to wheat protein, including gluten. On the other hand, the causes of non-celiac gluten sensitivity remain a relative mystery.

While people with a wheat allergy are often allergic to gluten, you may also be allergic to other parts of the wheat plant.

Wheat Allergy Symptoms

Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity have many symptoms in common, whereas the symptoms of a wheat allergy tend to be very distinct.

For example, if your body is allergic to wheat protein, you might experience:

  • Red, itchy rash made up of raised hives with a pale center. These hives may appear brown, purplish, or grey on darker skin tones.
  • Swollen face and lips, including tingling in the mouth and tongue
  • Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that may cause life-threatening symptoms, including a sudden drop in blood pressure and difficulty breathing.

Experiencing a food allergy tends to be more common for people who experience eczema and asthma. If you believe you have a wheat allergy, we suggest that you contact your doctor to begin allergy testing and seek medical guidance on your unique treatment plan.

How Do You Treat A Skin Rash Caused By Gluten?

Adopting a Gluten-Free Diet

The best way to treat your gluten sensitivity, gluten allergy, or celiac disease at the source is by reducing your gluten intake or adopting an entirely gluten-free diet. Thankfully, so many delicious gluten-free food options are available now, meaning that a gluten-free diet doesn’t have to feel restrictive!

The stricter you are with avoiding gluten altogether, the faster your body will be able to recover, and your skin will be able to clear.

Talk directly to your doctor and dietician for expert advice on the best ways forward. They might ask you to keep a food diary to help you determine your primary triggers.

Soothing Your Skin Itching

Anti-Itch Creams

Try a fragrance-free, gentle balm explicitly designed to combat itching at the source for instant relief.

This Grass Fed Tallow Balm is made from one of the world’s earliest and purest forms of skincare, offering effective relief from intense itching and dryness. This nourishing calm also contains lavender essential oil, a natural antibiotic & antiseptic, promoting healing and preventing scarring from your dermatitis herpetiformis bumps.

Anti-Itch Clothing 

One of the best ways to avoid irritating your inflamed skin further is to invest in some gentle, breathable clothing with hypoallergenic properties.

All the garments in the Remedywear™ range are made from eco-friendly TENCEL embedded with zinc oxidedesigned primarily to provide deep anti-itch treatment. 

We’d recommend trying the Remedywear™ Long Sleeve Shirt for Adults and Kids and the Remedywear™ Pants for Adults and Kids for full-body relief.

Wet Wrapping

If your skin is particularly aggravated, we’d recommend trying the ancient technique of wet wrapping.

The Remedywear™ Eczema and Psoriasis Sleeves are fantastic for wet wrapping around your elbows or knees. Lather your skin with your favorite soothing moisturizer, then wrap the affected area with a dampened Remedywear™ Sleeve to lock in all that extra hydration. Then, cover this with a final dry fabric layer to allow you to sleep in the wet wrap comfortably.

Soothe Your Itchy Skin Today

If gluten-containing foods are causing your skin to suffer, don’t fret! You can take many steps to tackle your celiac symptoms and allergic reactions at their source, soothing your skin problems from the inside out.


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