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.’
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 (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 products containing gluten and having adverse reactions. This includes oats, which are very common in skincare, although probably less so in sun preparations.
Local skin reactions are known to occur in wheat-sensitive people who use products containing wheat-based ingredients (eg, 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 (allergyuk.org). She advises choosing wheat- and gluten-free products, as ones containing gluten may have a wheat residue.
The specialist website skinsmatter.com covers both topics and also 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 these offer suncare.)
You also 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 purenuffstuff.co.uk.
Whatever product you consider buying, please discuss the issues with your dermatologist first.
Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men aged between 15 and 45, according to the male cancer charity Orchid, which also promotes awareness and research of prostate and penile cancers. Up to 98 per cent of men survive when testicular cancer is caught early. Orchid has been involved in developing successful treatments for aggressive strains of the cancer and has launched a new campaign called Your Privates to encourage young men to undertake regular life-saving ‘ball checks’. Visit yourprivates.org.uk or call the helpline on 0808 802 0010.
WEBSITE OF THE WEEK 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 that 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.