Is there such a thing as sunscreen for coeliacs?
Q. I have been diagnosed with coeliac disease [an autoimmune condition caused by intolerance to gluten]. I am about to go skiing and wondered if it is safe to use a sunscreen with gluten in the ingredients? I also have a wheat allergy. A. The official line, according to the charity Coeliac UK (www.coeliac.org), is that ‘gluten only causes a problem for people with coeliac disease if it is eaten, so using cosmetics or skin products that contain gluten-based ingredients is not a problem’. (But don’t use a product containing gluten on your lips or on any area of broken skin.)
However, there are anecdotal reports of coeliacs using skin products containing gluten and having adverse reactions. This includes oats, which are very common in skincare, although probably less so in sunpreps.
Local skin reactions are known to occur in wheat-sensitive people who use products containing wheat-based ingredients (e.g., hydrolysed wheat protein or wheatgerm oil).
‘There is potential for food allergens to cause contact dermatitis in very sensitive individuals,’ says Lindsey McManus, Deputy CEO of Allergy UK (www.allergyuk.org). She advises choosing wheat- and gluten-free products, as ones containing gluten may have a wheat residue.
The specialist website www.skinsmatter.com covers both topics and features several brands that might suit. The site also offers a list of skincare ranges free from food allergens including gluten, wheat, dairy and nut. (However, few of those listed offer suncare.)
You ask for recommendations for ‘reasonably priced products that won’t irritate or make me look like Mr Pastry’. Green People Scent Free Sun Lotion SPF 25 does not contain gluten or wheat and is reasonably priced at £18.95 for a generous 200ml. It is based on nano-sized particles of titanium dioxide so there will be no Mr Pastry effect.
Pure Nuff Stuff offers a sun cream formulated with a very short list of ingredients. It blends titanium dioxide – non-nano so you may get a trace of whitening – with sweet almond oil. A sample is just £1 from www.purenuffstuff.co.uk.
Whatever product you consider buying, please discuss the issues with your dermatologist first.
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WEBSITE OF THE WEEK; www.myhealthmyhome.com
According to this site, most people spend 90 per cent of their time indoors, but indoor air can be up to 50 times more polluted than outdoors. Alarmingly, it states that your home environment may contain over 900 potentially harmful chemicals, particles and biological materials. For example, over 80 per cent of people are at risk of respiratory and skin problems because of poor air quality. This website (not the easiest to navigate but worth persevering) includes a comprehensive list of pollutants that can cause toxic home syndrome and ten simple tips for a more healthy living space.
Tips include good ventilation, eco-friendly cleaning products, unplugging electrical devices when not in use, drying washing outside if possible, changing shower curtains regularly and not using vinyl ones, as vinyl harbours water and creates mould
A reader whose mother is having treatment for cancer writes to say that although ‘she has such a violent reaction to most skincare, I persuaded her to try Sheald Recovery Balm on a wound on her shoulder caused by a bad fall six months ago. It was still red and raw months later but since she started using Sheald every day it’s so much better and she’s thrilled. It is expensive but really worth the price.’ £43, from www.victoriahealth.com.