Eczema worse since going gluten free.


I went GF two months ago and have found my eczema has become a lot worse.

I was obviously hoping it would improve.

I am now wondering if anything in the GF bread and pasta I am eating is having an effect on it.

Has anyone suffered from anything similar?

37 Replies

  • Since going gluten free I have found I am more sensitive (or just noticing now) to anything where there may have been cross contamination i.e. frier for chips.

    Lactose makes my eczema worse, specifically whey protein. I don't have anything with whey which means I can tolerate small amount of diary. I get small blisters on my fingers if I'm having too much, cutting out for a few days/week clears it up.

  • Hi

    many thanks for your reply.

    Mine started with blisters on my fingers and hands that itched like mad. The skin is now thick and dry. The eczema is now on my inner arms, neck creases, thighs and now my ankles. The creams from the Doctor are not helping.

    I do have a small amount of milk in my tea, and eat some cheese. I will give this up now and see if it helps.

  • Hi Lucylocks just wondering whether you have considered your rash may be Dermatitis Herpetiformis, I had this for years and the doctors never picked up on it, when I eventually got diagnosed the GP said he had never seen it before, however the dermatologist said it was common. DH is characterised by small blisters full of water. None of the creams helped and even after going gluten free I still had the rash. I did find giving up dairy helped, however the only cure at the time for me was medication Dapsone. I only used it when it was really itchy, not all of the time and havent used it for over a year.

  • Hi tmoxon,

    many thanks for your reply.

    Yes I did wonder it was Dermatitis Herpetiformis. It started as small blisters on my hands which itched like mad, but now the skin on my hands is really thick and dry and the skin is cracking, they look and feel awful.

    I have since gone gluten free but the rash has since spread to my arms, and various other parts of my body, but this is not blisters. Doctor said it is eczema/dermatitis. I have also now developed hives as well.

    I went dairy free a week ago, but the rash is as bad as ever.

    I will look into Dapsone, thank you.

  • Hi you may find that only a specialist will be willing to prescribe you Dapsone, I suppose it depends on the GP. Its a drug that they will monitor you on ie take your blood to make sure it not causing you any issues. I started to take them all of time but found my legs felt very heavy so I decided to just take them when the itch became too much for me. I believe that the meds can be used it as a test to see if it is DH as if it makes the itch better then it is so that may be worth mentioning.

    in my case I found that the rash changed, I did have the classic blistery rash at one time on my knees and elbows, however it then spread to my back and bottom but the dapsone always helped so i think it was still DH despite it not looking the same.

    Good luck with it, I got really down when I was first diagnosed as i thought that being gluten free would mean no rash, however it took a few years to get rid of the rash, I do get the odd itch now but nothing really.

  • Like you say it does get you down and I cannot wait until January for my NHS appointment, so I have just arranged to see a private Dermatologist. I have just rang and they gave me an appointment for tomorrow morning.

    I hope I can get it sorted.

  • Hi Lucy I really feel for you, it is very itchy, hope you manage to see someone good, I was diagnosed with CD first and then DH, I had a biopsy to get the DH diagnosis, which was pointless really, however it was my immunologist who said to have this, the dermatologist told me it was definitely DH and not to both with the biopsy, they were happy for me to have the Dapsone and it was a godsend to me. Let us know how you get on tomorrow.

  • Yes I will let you know how I get on.

    Thank you for your help.

  • Hi tmoxon,

    just to let you know, I saw the Dermatologist this morning who said I have "Pompholyx" on my hands and contact Dermatitis. ( I asked if could be DH, but he No) I said I couldn't understand that as the things that come into contact with my hands are not the same things that would come into contact with my neck, armpits etc. where the other rashes are.

    He explained that once the allergen is on your hands it then travels via the skin pathways and in turn occurs on other parts of the body.

    He told me, which I think you may be interested in, there is a fairly new preservative manufacturers are putting in a lot of household and cosmetic products that is causing a lot of allergies in people. It is called METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE -( MI - shortened version) he said normally only 1 to 2% of people are allergic to other preservatives in products but this one is causing reactions in 10%

    He has prescribed me a steroid cream and some moisturisers (not sure which as I had to give the letter into my G.P.) and has booked me in to an allergy clinic, if on the NHS, the appointment will not be for a couple of months, privately, obviously a lot sooner. If I do not have any success with the creams, I will think about having the tests done privately.

    So I am off now to check everything in the house for MI, and in the meantime not use anything with it in.

  • Hi Lucy glad to hear that you have a diagnosis, hope you find the creams etc work for you.

    i know when i first saw the dermatologist ( it was at Hull Royal) he was only young but said that he recognised DH, they are experts in skin conditions so I suppose if your doc says it is Pompholyx then that is likely to be correct.

    I have looked at photos of this and have also had small amounts of this on my hands over the years.

    The other skin conditions I have experienced are my hands and feet being so dry the skin cracks.

    I used to get Cholinergic urticaria which is a rash I got when i was too warm, I only got this whilst walking in a hot country, never in this country, and another strange thing was the skin around the top of my arms used to go red and rough, a bit like sandpaper. Sorry not trying to bore you to death with all of the symptoms i had but thought it might ring a bell with you. Again the Dapsone used to take away the rough skin, it looked a bit like a burn.

    With regards to going for a test, if you are meaning to test for DH then I would be very careful you dont spend a lot of money and get nowhere. As far as i am aware they have to take the biopsy from skin that has the rash and also a skin that is clear and again I am not an expert but I think it can be one of those things that isnt always conclusive.

    I am loathed to advise you to try drugs, as far as I know Dapsone is a drug that can cause issues, however if you still are itching like mad and have no respite after the creams etc I would go to your GP with some information about the drug and ask whether you could try it, my GP looked into it all for me. It wont be something that they prescribe often so that is the reason you might have to give them some infor. We are all different but I found that after about 1 or 2 hours of taking it my itch was a lot better and I was able to sleep.

    Also if you are still suffering then I would also be tempted to give Coeliac Uk a call.

    Hope the above is helpful and your creams work for you

  • Hi

    Funnily enough I live just on the outskirts of Hull. Saw Dermatologist at Spire.

    The testing is for allergies not DH, I think one will be for the preservative I mentioned.

    I do not actually have ceoliac disease, been tested twice and blood test came back negative both times. I cut gluten out to help my Hypothyroidism/Hashis,

    I have also been getting urticaria, from the cold in winter but strangely enough got it on my upper arms like you (mine was not like sandpaper though, it was small hives) when walking on the beach here in the summer. It was nice and warm with a light breeze and it came on then. Told Dermatologist about this and he called it, I think, pressure urticaria. (my husband counldn't remember the exact name either) I asked if this is because my skin is sensitive because of the rash and he said yes.

    He did say if all else failed there was a drug he could prescribe but did say what it was.

    Best wishes.

  • Hi Lucy, I thought I would mention Hull just in case you were near here, the dermatologist I saw was called Dr Javed Mohungoo who I believe also works at Spire.

    After many years of rashes, and an allergy where if it rained in summer I got terrible breathing issues and had to go on a course of steroids I asked my GP to send me to a specialist.

    I was sent to the immunology clinic at Hull and they gave me the skin prick test and other allergy tests, because one of the specialists had an interest in CD he tested all his patients and that is how i found out about the CD.

    Just to give you a word of warning about allergy tests, after one of them I was told I had an allergy to plantain, that it was the vegetable like a banana. The doctor said that I should not worry about it as we dont eat it here.

    Then on later appointment I asked whether the plantain he had mentioned could be the plant type of weed that grows over here and the same doctor said yes.

    Later I was informed that the test was not valid and I wasnt allergic to plantain after all ! They were going to give me a better test which was a new all singing and dancing one ( cant remember the name of it now, sorry) , that came back with the result I wasn't allergic to anything.

    This was all done on the NHS but apart from the CD result it was all a waste of time.

    I meant to mention when I wrote last time that the preservative you mentioned was on Watchdog a few years ago when a sun tan cream caused a lot of problems for people

  • Sorry just remembered the allergy test they gave me was an Isac test

  • Hi

    Many thanks for the link re the preservative. I will watch it this evening, also the one to the clinic.

    The clinic do a home finger prick test but does not say how much it is, but I will look into it.

    It is good your allergy tests came back negative so at least you know it was nothing else causing your rashes apart from your CD.

    Did they not find out what was causing your breathing issue?

  • Hi Again, yes it was good that the allergy tests came back as normal, however if i had gone private i dont think i would have been too pleased being told one thing and then another. I think that i have had CD for some many years but not diagnosed that my body has suffered in all sorts of ways and that is why I have had the issues. Hope you have started on your treatment and are feeling better soon.

  • Just got my creams today.

    Yesterday got a call from Immunology to say they had a cancellation for November so hopefully I will not have to go private for the tests.

    Having said that, the Dermatologist said Hull Immunology do more allergy testing for food, where as the one in Leeds he has referred me to test for different things like the preservative I mentioned.

  • Hi Lucy good luck with the testing, glad to hear that the doctor you have seen has referred you to the right place.

    Hope you find out what it is that is causing you the issue and its something that isnt going to be too difficult to stop using. Let us know how you get on

  • Thanks tmoxon.

    yes I will let you know.

    Many thanks for all you help and advice.

    Best wishes.

  • You are welcome, hope you feel better soon

  • Thank you.

  • Apart from dairy possibly being a problem, it might be a good idea to cut out corn and soya too, as these can be a trigger for some people. Unfortunately if you have problems with gluten it's not unusual to have a problem with other foods.

  • I do not eat soya but occasionally have corn so will now cut that out now.

    Thank you.

  • Have you also gone dairy free? The casein protein in milk is very similar to gluten. It is the whey protein.

    Cheeses, yogurts, butter, etc.

    Unless you cook for yourself, it is hard to go conpletely gluten and dairy free.

  • No not dairy free, I will start tomorrow.

    Can you suggest any good alternatives.

    Thank you.

  • As a substitute for butter, i use hummus or nothing if I'm having jam on my gluten free toast. It took a bit of getting used to, but now I love it.

    Olive oil for cooking.

    Mayo for cream/sour cream, etc.

    Almond milk, coconut milk - i don't do soya anything.

    Haven't found a good substitute for cheese. The dairy free cheeses are rubbish.

  • Many thanks for the suggestions, going to start tomorrow, hopefully it will help.

    Best wishes.

  • It could be something else but it doesn't mean that gluten is not responsible.

    Eczema has been associated with various foods, including peanuts, dairy, soy, fish, and eggs, as well as all grains.

    Wheat, rye, and barley contain a wide range of proteins that have been associated with eczema, asthma, and other forms of allergies.

  • Thank you for your reply.

    Do you think it is worth having a food allergy test for all these foods?

    I am allergic to Aspirin and I am starting to wonder if it may have something to do with salyictates.

  • Food allergy tests can be costly and are not always accurate.

    As much as they can be lengthy, as a process, the elimination diet and an elimination of certain common products that you use tend to be more helpful.

    Let me explain, testing for IgG antibodies to a particular food will measure how much of an allergic “attack” your body is mounting against that food. It may come negative for antibodies yet you could be intolerant for the same foods rather than allergic. I tested negatively for gluten but when I voluntarily stopped it, I felt the immediate benefit and within a week.

    Eczema and psoriasis are accurate markers for a leaky gut and by eliminating certain known as trigger foods like gluten, rye, barley and even oats at times, as well as dairy, you may begin to see a difference.

  • Thank you,

    I have an appointment with a NHS immunologist but not until 2nd January, I need to get the eczema improved now.

    I have been looking into leaky gut, but need to read up on it more and start to address it.

    Have not had gluten, barley, rye or oats for two months now.

    Starting dairy free tomorrow so hope I find some improvement.

    Thank you for your advice.

  • You are very welcome!

  • I don’t suffer from eczema luckily but I found out I was allergic to wheat a few years ago and went completely gf just over a year ago because I was suffering with lots of classic food issues. That helped but in July this year I decided to try an elimination diet because I knew that there was something else that was affecting me. Dairy came out as the major issue and since being gluten and dairy free my diet and mental health has improved 100%.

    I’m not saying that you might have a problem with dairy as such but there might be something else that’s causing you problems. It’s maybe worth a shot? Xx

  • Many thanks,

    I am starting dairy free tomorrow. Just got some rice milk to try, and will stop butter and cheese and everything else with dairy in.

    It would be great if it improved my eczema and also improved my mental health as it has yours.

    I am hypothyroid and do suffer from anxiety which I thought was connected to my thyroid levels, so if cutting out dairy helped my anxiety that would be an added bonus.

    Thank you for letting me know,

  • Good luck. I had to stop having dairy for about 3 weeks before I really saw any improvement but now, just like with small amounts of gluten, I know if I’ve slipped up. If it’s not dairy it could be something else you eat regularly but you won’t know until you have to give it up xx

  • Many thanks.

  • Look at dairy i heft both off and mine went.

  • Thank you,

    just started dairy free today, so I am hoping mine goes too.

    How long did yours take to clear up?

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