If This Happens To Your Skin, It Could Be A Sign Of Gluten Sensitivity

The skin is our largest organ, and it can present all kinds of issues — rashes, sunburns, acne, sun spots, and more. But if you've ever had a particular cluster of bumps on your skin, you might be sensitive to gluten or even have celiac disease.

Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that damages the intestines caused by consumed gluten, a protein that can be found in wheat, barley, and rye (via Beyond Celiac). It affects 3 million Americans or 1 in 133 people. Symptoms can include bloating, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, and even anxiety, depression, infertility, and liver disease.

Some people can test negative for celiac disease but still be intolerant or sensitive to gluten, according to Beyond Celiac. The symptoms of gluten sensitivity can include gastrointestinal issues, headaches, "foggy mind," joint pain, and numbness in the extremities. It's typical that the sensitivity symptoms occur as soon as hours after eating gluten, or as long as days later. While these intolerance symptoms are similar to those of celiac disease, gluten sensitivity is not as severe and doesn't damage the intestines in the same way.

Watch out for these bumps or blisters

Another symptom of either celiac disease or gluten sensitivity is a skin condition called dermatitis herpetiformis (DH), according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. DH is characterized by bumps or blisters that are very itchy and form clusters on the skin, often near the elbows, knees, buttocks, and hairline. It's sometimes mistaken for eczema but is actually a reaction to ingesting gluten. It's more common in men, usually appears for the first time between the ages of 30 and 40, and is more common in people of northern European descent.

While the majority of people who suffer from DH are diagnosed with celiac disease, 20% will have normal intestinal biopsies (via Celiac Disease Foundation). In people who do have celiac disease, only about 10-15% will develop DH. While gastrointestinal symptoms do not usually co-occur with DH, sticking to a gluten-free diet will greatly improve DH symptoms. A dermatologist can diagnose you with a quick skin biopsy. Topical treatments may be prescribed for short-term itch relief, but the only way to control DH is by maintaining a strict gluten-free diet.