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Gluten-free shampoo uses only gluten-free ingredients. Gluten is a type of protein that is found primarily in wheat, barley and rye. Some derivates of these grains are often used in products such as shampoos, conditioners, toothpastes, lotions and other items. People who have allergies to wheat or similar grains when applied to the skin will generally opt for gluten-free products to avoid the redness and rash that can result from this type of sensitivity.
Many people have to follow a gluten-free diet because of celiac disease, which usually causes ingested gluten to irritate the small intestine. People with this disease are generally advised to avoid all foods and beverages that contain gluten as well as gluten in other items that may be ingested, such as toothpaste, lip balm or anything that goes in or near the mouth. Some people also claim that using shampoos and other products that contain gluten gives them skin rashes and other problems, so they use gluten-free shampoo.
It is typically believed that gluten in products such as shampoo cannot be absorbed because the molecules are too large to pass through the skin. If a rash or other allergic reaction occurs from using shampoo, it may be a sign of a different type of wheat or gluten allergy. Some people who suffer with celiac disease prefer to use gluten-free shampoo to be on the safe side and avoid any potential reaction. They choose a completely gluten-free lifestyle rather than risk having a flare up of their disease.
Any reaction with gluten in shampoo, however, is generally believed to be from a wheat allergy rather than celiac disease. An open cut or wound on the skin, however, may allow gluten to be absorbed. While gluten can cause skin rashes in people with celiac disease, this is typically believed to be caused from ingested gluten, not from any found in topical products. Some people claim that hair loss can be triggered by gluten sensitivity, while others choose to avoid gluten as well as many different chemicals in their shampoos and cosmetics for various reasons.
Many types of shampoos now have the words "gluten-free" on their labels, making it easier for those who want to use gluten-free shampoo. The most common gluten ingredient found in shampoos is usually listed as hydrolyzed wheat protein or some other wheat product. Barley, rye and other grains also contain gluten and often are found in shampoos and other beauty and hygiene products. If a shampoo is not labeled gluten-free but does not seem to contain any wheat products, a phone call, letter or email to the manufacturer can help a consumer find out whether or not it is a gluten-free shampoo.