Do we need to worry about gluten-containing lotions, shampoos, and toothpaste being absorbed through the skin?

Posted in Dietary FAQ

Do we need to worry about gluten-containing lotions, shampoos, and toothpaste being absorbed through the skin? Nicotine patches, birth-control patches and other trans-dermal applications of medications are proof that the skin does absorb many things (and pass them to the bloodstream). However, the molecules in gluten are too large to pass through the skin, according to John Zone, MD (a dermatologist quoted in the Spring 2003 issue of Living Without Magazine).
Most often the problem occurs from hand to mouth (i.e. touching playdoh and touching one's face), which is a good reason to avoid giving our kids much access to anything that poses a threat. If your child's school has a sensory table, you can request that it be filled with rice or dried beans, instead of macaroni or gluten grains. Likewise, we suggest that you volunteer to be the Playdough Parent and keep the classroom supplied with a safe version that you don't have to worry about.
We are not too concerned about shampoo, unless you have a child who is likely to try to drink the stuff. But toothpaste is an entirely different matter, since some of it is likely to be ingested, rather than spit out.


The content on this website is not to be taken as medical advice. We have gathered information here so that you can make an informed decision in partnership with your medical practitioner.

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Lisa S. Lewis, Ph.D.

Lisa S. Lewis, Ph.D. Lisa S. Lewis, Ph.D. is the author of Special Diets For Special Kids I & II, the foremost books on gluten and casein-free diets for children with disabilities.

Karyn Seroussi

Karyn Seroussi Karyn Seroussi is the author of Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and PDD, the story of her son's autism recovery through dietary and other biomedical interventions.

Helping since 1995

Together Lewis and Seroussi created the Autism Network for Dietary Intervention (ANDI.) Since 1995, ANDI has been helping and supporting parents using dietary and biomedical interventions for autism spectrum disorders. Last year, Lisa and Karyn again joined forces and put the sum of their knowledge in a new book, The Encyclopedia of Dietary Interventions. They continue to write and speak on the topic of dietary intervention, and to support other parents around the world.