Your little one’s eczema seems resistant to the effects of lotions and creams—especially if she’s a preemie. Could the products be making it worse? An increasing number of parents are discovering that gluten intolerance is responsible for a host of problems—any number of rashes, irritations, and other skin problems on their children’s or their own bodies.
Why Go Gluten Free?
Many parents first discover that their child is gluten intolerant through the appearance of skin problems such as dry skin, eczema, and other forms of dermatitis. For preemies who are working overtime to grow, the stress from discomfort and pain makes growing harder. The cause and effect relationship between baby eczema and gluten intolerance is unclear, but most physicians agree that a gluten-free skincare routine could help improve eczema and other related forms of dermatitis and dry skin for baby.
What’s the Problem with Gluten?
Gluten may or may not be a problem for your baby, but gluten intolerance could help explain your baby’s eczema and other skin problems.
If you already know you are gluten intolerant, there is a much higher likelihood that your baby is, too.
According to the National Institute of Health, as many as 5% to 10%  of all people suffer from a gluten sensitivity of some kind. Even if you aren’t sure yet, minimize the chance of gluten intolerance flare-ups on your baby’s skin by sticking with a gluten-free skincare routine using products like our BEB Organic products.
What Is Gluten Intolerance?
First, let’s start with a definition of gluten. Simply stated, gluten refers to a protein commonly found in wheat. Other cereal grains—like rye and barley—can also pose a problem.
People with Celiac disease are unable to properly digest this protein, and it leads to a host of painful problems ranging from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) to headaches to eczema.
As it turns out, grains with gluten only entered the human diet about 10,000 years ago. For approximately 250,000 years prior, we evolved without ingesting the gluten protein.
Advances in agriculture led to increased consumption of gluten-containing grains that the human intestine may not fully be able to digest. This in turn may have led to celiac disease in some and gluten-sensitivity in others.
While we are able to test for Celiac disease (the extreme form of gluten sensitivity), many more people are gluten intolerant and don’t even know it!
Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
The most common symptoms of gluten intolerance, in addition to skin problems, are fatigue, gastrointestinal issues like constipation or diarrhea, extreme weight changes, headaches or joint pain.
Be aware that infants will not begin to display symptoms of gluten allergies until solids containing gluten are introduced to their diets, although preemies may react to skin products with gluten even before solids are introduced.
Some of the more common symptoms of celiac disease in babies include:
- bruising very easily
- steatorrhea (foul-smelling stools that are often gray in color and are fatty or oily)
- an unhealthy pale appearance
- abdominal distension
- frequent gastrointestinal stress such as diarrhea or constipation
- a failure to thrive
- and even autism
Gluten-intolerant people are more likely to have eczema because of the range of foods and products that contain it.
Even family members who don’t have gluten intolerance symptoms caused by foods may find their skin issues have a connection to this protein.
For allergy and eczema sufferers, even a tiny bit of gliadin (the protein found in wheat and other grains) can cause a severe immunological response.
Some individuals may also suffer from sensitivity to avenin, an oat protein that has many of the same properties as gluten.
Approximately one out of every 133 people inherited the gene for celiac disease.
Although your baby may not actually have celiac disease or the clinical manifestations of a gluten allergy, your infant can still have eczema due to gluten intolerance.
If you suspect gluten troubles may be the culprit for your baby’s eczema, a blood test can be helpful in confirming or disproving a gluten allergy diagnosis.
Even if the test results are negative, many physicians suggest a two-month trial of a gluten-free diet to see if the eczema improves. Most advocate continuing the diet if there seems to be some improvement in the rash, even if it did not clear up fully.
There are no medications to treat gluten intolerance.
The only solution is to have a diet and skincare regimen completely free of gluten proteins. Our BEB Organic product line is completely gluten-free and safe even for preemies who are developed enough to be touched.
Saying No To Oats
Oats pose a huge and problematic question for those who strive to be gluten-free. While oats don’t actually contain the offending protein, most crops are contaminated with it by the wind blowing seeds through the fields, or from the equipment used to process oats and wheat, rye, or barley flour.
Numerous studies have shown there is an enormous amount of cross-contamination between oats and grains with gluten proteins. Approximately 88% of oat samples tested in Canada were shown to have this cross-contamination.
In the typical Western diet, going completely gluten-free has its challenges.
For both Celiac disease sufferers and those with gluten-intolerance, strict avoidance is key to maintaining a healthy system.
Ironically, many eczema care products are made with the active ingredient Avena Sativa, or wild oats.
Since a surprisingly high number of gluten intolerance cases go undiagnosed, and they are frequently coupled with eczema, it makes sense to stay away from any eczema product made with Avena Sativa.
To avoid more problems, the safest bet is to stick with gluten-free sunscreens and gluten-free baby washes like our BEB Organic Bubbly Wash, nourishing creams like our Silky Cream and soothing gels like our Healing Gel.
The National Institutes of Health The Gluten-Free Diet: Safety and Nutritional Quality Letizia Saturni Gianna Ferretti, and Tiziana Bacchetti Nutrients. 2010 January; 2(1): 16–34.