Does gluten cause skin allergies?

Hives and other chronic and itchy skin rashes can be one of the reactions that you may manifests as a result of a gluten allergy. Since you can't be allergic to your own skin, the allergy or intolerance must actually lie with the gluten you consume.

People with gluten allergies may suffer from any number of unpleasant symptoms, triggered by their bodies' inability to properly digest gluten. The symptoms can range in frequency and severity and may include migraines and lethargy, to gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea or constipation, to skin problems. Going on a life-long gluten-free diet is the only method of managing this condition.


People with gluten allergies produce extraneous amounts of the IgA antibodies as a reaction to gluten in their systems. This reaction is considered an autoimmune response to what the body perceives to be an "invasion" by a foreign and unrecognisable substance. The body creates special antibodies to attack the gluten proteins; however, in the process it also begins to attack its own protein tissues. In some people the body deposits the antibodies into the skin. These antibodies are triggered when the gluten, which is absorbed into the bloodstream, is circulated around the body and deposited in the dermis (skin). This interaction results in eruptions on the skin that manifest as a blistering, burning and itchy rash known as Dermatitis Herpetiformis.

While Dermatitis Herpetiformis can affect any area of the body, it is mainly located on the scalp, elbows, buttocks, knees, legs and back. Research shows that Dermatitis Herpetiformis is not a common reaction to gluten, and it affects more men than women. People with Dermatitis Herpetiformis should get tested for gluten enteropathy, the most common form of celiac disease.

An elimination diet is the only way to control Dermatitis Herpetiformis. Even then, once you have gone gluten-free it may still take months, or even years, until the Dermatitis Herpetiformis completely resolves.