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Sources of Hidden Gluten in Non-Food Products

If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease or with gluten sensitivity, you will soon discover that gluten is found in a surprising variety of food products. With experience, you will become skilled at identifying and avoiding gluten-containing foods. However, for people who are newly-diagnosed, it can often come as a shock to find that there is often hidden gluten in other everyday items. Manufacturers often use gluten or wheat flour to aid the manufacturing process for non-food items, e.g. as fillers, lubricants or absorbents.

While gluten is not absorbed through the skin, it is possible to transfer traces from your hands or face to your mouth, where it can be swallowed and cause a reaction.

Below is a list of potential sources of gluten in non-food products that you should be aware of:

Hidden Gluten in Prescription and Over-the-counter Medications:

Sources of hidden gluten in medicine

  • Pills
  • Capsules
  • Cough syrups
  • Cough lozenges
  • Vitamins
  • Mineral supplements

Hidden Gluten in Cosmetics and Toiletries:

  • Make-up
  • Lipstick
  • Lip gloss
  • Lip balm
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Soaps
  • Bath salts
  • Baby powder
  • Lotions and creams
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Sunscreen

Sources of Gluten in Household items:

  • Cleaning liquids
  • Detergents
  • Latex or rubber gloves
  • Stamps, envelopes, stickers (glue)

Other Potential Sources of Hidden Gluten:

  • Chewing gum
  • Communion wafers
  • Pet food
  • Play-dough
  • Art supplies, e.g. paints, glue, clay

Our Recommendations:

  1. Read ingredient labels carefully. Be very cautious if the product is a new or improved formulation.
  2. Don’t be afraid to call the manufacturer to determine whether a product may contain gluten. Their phone number is usually listed on the package.
  3. Talk with your doctor, dentist and pharmacist to make sure they understand your gluten-free needs.
  4. Young children are prone to putting their fingers or other items in their mouth, so monitor them closely if they are sensitive to gluten.
  5. Make sure teachers and child-care providers are knowledgeable regarding your child’s needs.
  6. Wash your hands if you may have touched a gluten-contaminated surface.

Useful Links for Finding Hidden Gluten:

  1. Current list of available gluten-free medications compiled by a clinical pharmacist
  2. Hlywiak, K.H. Hidden Sources of Gluten. Practical Gastroenterology (2008) 32(9): 27-38.