Rash after going gluten free? Is this normal?

Had a gastroscopy 4 weeks ago and been GF since. 3 weeks ago we had some sun and I broke out in a wee rash on my arms and upper chest, 2 weeks ago the same but a bit worse and this week has been impossible. I look like I've been bitten all over my arms, upper chest, upper back and a bit here and there. My partner is convinced this is due to my change in diet. It's so so itchy and scratching is not an option. I've recently moved so just registered with a new GP or I would have presented.

I've scrubbed my skin my skin with dead sea salt and even doused myself with vinegar for relief, all to no avail. Has anyone else had this reaction? Any suggestions?

16 Replies

  • Not sure if it has anything to do with going gluten free. It may well be a reaction to the sun. You could try taking some antihistamines to control the itching and use calamine lotion on your skin. Get to see the doctor when you are able.


    I used to react badly to the sun, but post menopause this seems to have cleared up.

  • There could be many reasons for your rash that might not be connected to your diet. Check out Hives & Urticaria. It could be a reaction to many things including shampoos/ shower gels, my trials etc gave me my information which I took to a Consultant Dermatologist who then referred me for patch testing which gave a positive reaction after the five days required. I take an antihistamine (Piriton) up to max dose of 6 per day. The itching gets that bad sleep is restricted by scratching with constant bed changing because of blood on it. I react to an ingredient in the gluten free diet, not many will haave my issues.

  • I also started having allergic reaction to the sun after going gf, but I don't know what the connection could be. Just wanted you to know you aren't alone.

  • Thanks for your comments.

    A reaction to the sun is definitely what this is but I used to live in Cyprus so I'm well used to the sun. It's prickly heat which is a blockage of the sweat glands.

    I've had neurodermatitis since age 13 (off and on) and I'm a (young!) menopausal grandmother. In the 1980s had the allergy test on my back for numerous allergens so aware of all that. I haven't changed my shampoos or laundry stuff in years, due to my skin. The only thing different is my gluten free diet. I'm wondering if all the added chemicals in GF bakery items might be causing this.

    Antihistamines would be a relief but I'm of the thought that my body is telling me something and I don't want to block it's natural reactions until I understand the mechanism.

    So glad to hear dellie that someone else had this.

  • Sounds like a sun rash/sun burn; my friend had exactly the same thing. Taking reactive food out of your diet won't affect you in this way

  • I've experienced exactly the same sun sensitivity since going gluten free, but I virtually never eat processed free-from foods so it can't be that. Personally I'm putting it down to coincidence and age/hormones.

  • I did realise that I'm on ferrous sulphate tablets (iron) and that has been added a few days following my gastroscopy so I went to the local pharmacy and asked the chemist on duty if there could be any gluten within but unfortunately she looked at me with 'deer in the headlight' eyes so no help there.

  • Hi MapleMamma, this sounds really irritating so poor you, have you come across polymorphic light eruptions?

    patient.co.uk/health/polymo... There's pictures of the rash so that should give you an idea if it's this.

    It's interesting that this has started now you've gone gluten free and if it was a food allergy my first thought would be that now your villi is recovering your body is starting to absorb nutrients and a food allergy is coming to light but as you're convinced it caused by sunshine it could be that your immune system is over active and hopefully it will all settle down with time as your body is going through a period of change since your recent diagnosis. You're also obviously anaemic as you're taking iron and being deficient in iron and minerals could be exacerbating matters.

    So I'd try keeping out of the sun and ask your GP to refer you for allergy testing if this continues, as for rubbing salt and vinegar all over you'll only ending up smelling like you work in the local chippie and I hope that it wasn't malt vinegar!

    Lastly we all need sunshine to produce vitamin D and folic acid helps our bodies to absorb iron so it could be worth taking these and good luck with this.

  • Thanks for that Jerry. Not heard of PMLE before. I've got it on my hands and I'm menopausal (early 50s) but you could be right it seems to happen with 20 min or more of sunlight.

    Back to the pic of PMLE, my eruptions have a tiny white point on them.

    Also I'm a sunlover and lived in the Med for years and to top that, I use light therapy with Lumie lights during Sept-Apr so my skin should be tough and leathered. I'm hoping that when my body gets sorted, all of this will fade away into a distance memory.

    I've had reactions to parabens since a teenager so I'm vigilant about what I put on my skin. I've been reading about shampoos and potions containing gluten (the effected areas tie in with a shampoo or conditioner reaction ie. back of neck, shoulders, hands and upper chest with a touch on the tops of my feet) and I've had my long suffering partner spell ingredients but I'm still flabbergasted.

    Is L'Oreal worth me?

    Btw the salt was actually from the Dead Sea and always curative, and the vinegar was organic apple cider, better known to us Canucks as 'the cure all'. I was desperate, what can I say? ;-)

  • A second endoscopy is the only way to find out if your villi are recovering but then your gut can be normal and you can still have endescopic CD markers. With regard to your rash get referred to a Consultant Dermatologist as rashes can be sweat, laundry, hives(Urticaria) only an expert will give you your answer but you can help by noting diet & symptoms

  • If you have only had this rash since going "gluten Free" I would suspect that it is an ingredient in the "Gluten Free" foods that may be the trigger, in which case I would check for a common ingredient in this diet, avoid it for several weeks then reintroduce it. If symptoms reappear then you have your trigger. Coeliac's and wheat intolerants may become light sensitive but if it is an allergy it needs testing because allergies can be life threatening.(Anaphylaxis)

  • Actually that sounds quite possible too. I have been tasting and testing whatever I can get my hands on and eating far more 'junk' food than I normally do. I did look at the ingredients on those bakery products and had to stop myself. Suppose I'll cut everything back to nature and start from there.

    Not sure what you mean by 'coeliac's and wheat intolerants may become light sensitive' as this is not good and fingers crossed but it's my settling down period and its temporary.

  • Hi Maple Mamma, When I was 6 we moved to Hong Kong which s where I was first diagnosed and yes my sister informs me I got badly sunburnt prior to diagnosis, when diagnosed for the second time I stayed iin the shade while on holiday in the Canaries for several years and my sister gluten intolerant still suffers from the sun I can now sit in it. I notice in your response to jerry that you say your spots have white heads to them, can you squeeze them and puss comes out?

  • White heads is maybe a misleading term, more like little white pricks which intially lead me to think that something is blocked. No I can't squeeze them but the white point easily removes with scratching.

    Good news is that I called my new surgery and was seen. The doc didn't have any of my notes so I had to give a quick handover. He though it was DH! It looks like that but then I pointed out it's happened since following 'the recognised gluten free standard' ;-) HA! Nonspecific dermatitis now.

    I've read some of the other forums and I'm left wondering if I'm reacting to a minute amount of gluten and/or reacting to other chemicals added to 'the recognised gluten free standard'.

    Only time will tell.

    Shame about the sun as we get so little of it here in Scotland.

  • Non specific dermatitis which means an unknown trigger. After 7 years it was found that my Trunkal rash was caused by formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers, ie exhaust fumes, smokers, new buildings, shampoo's Gluten Free diet ingredient, an ingredient in medications. The list is not exhaustive and can take awhile to find the culprit, good luck in finding the cause.

  • Actually it means non identified inflamation of the skin, I speak the medical lingo in more ways than one. ;-) Yes the doc was very understanding when I smiled at the diagnosis. This one knew he wasn't a divine being and I appreciated his honesty.

    You seem to be a bit idiosyncratic too by the sounds of it. This is very life changing.

    My partner thinks I'm taking this all too seriously til I sit him down and explain from time to time, then he agrees with me. I've always had sensitive skin so aware but not ready for all this. Thanks for yours and everyones input.

    Maple :-)

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