Eating gluten may trigger psoriasis symptoms if you also have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Otherwise, avoiding gluten may lead to complications like nutritional deficiencies.

Psoriasis is a chronic immune-mediated skin disorder that affects up to 3% of people in the United States. It usually presents as scaly, discolored, and often painful patches on the skin.

Many triggers may cause psoriasis symptoms to flare up, such as stress, illness, and diet. Some people suggest that gluten may even trigger symptoms.

Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat products, such as:

  • bread
  • pasta
  • crackers
  • certain cereals
  • beer
  • soups
  • gravies
  • processed food
  • some cosmetics
  • some medications

A 2017 study found that 36% of participants with psoriasis followed a gluten-free diet to help with their psoriasis symptoms. Of those who avoided gluten, 53% reported notable improvements in their symptoms.

That said, research on the relationship between psoriasis and gluten is mixed.

Keep reading to learn more about gluten and psoriasis, along with gluten’s potential benefits and downsides.

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The relationship between gluten and psoriasis isn’t clear, but some people report a decrease in symptoms after following a gluten-free diet.

Research suggests that gluten may worsen psoriasis symptoms in people with a high level of an antibody called anti-gliadin antibodies (AGA). Antibodies are released when the body is trying to fight a foreign invader. This suggests that gluten results in an immune response in some individuals, which could be a sign of gluten sensitivity.

A 2014 study found that 14% of people with psoriasis had high levels of AGA compared to 5% in the general population.

It’s common for people with psoriasis to have concurrent immune diseases, especially those that relate to the gut or joints. These may include:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • ulcerative colitis
  • psoriatic arthritis

People with psoriasis are also 2.16 times more likely to have celiac disease. This is a condition where gluten damages the villi of the intestine. Psoriasis and celiac disease have similar inflammatory and genetic pathways, which may lead to the development of both conditions.

However, a 2019 study involving 85,185 participants found no dose-response relationship between gluten intake and the onset of psoriasis. This suggests that gluten doesn’t cause psoriasis. That said, they didn’t assess a strict gluten-free diet, which is a minor limitation.

Gluten may worsen psoriasis symptoms if you also have high AGA levels. However, gluten is likely not the root cause of psoriasis.

Following a gluten-free diet may reduce psoriasis symptoms in some people, but not all.

Having a gluten sensitivity or allergy may elicit an immune response in the body. This may simultaneously spur a psoriasis-related immune response.

A 2022 review of 1,408 people across 83 studies with non-celiac autoimmune diseases found that a gluten-free diet helped reduce symptoms in 64.7% of people. One limitation is the study was not exclusive to psoriasis.

Another 2017 study analyzed the effect of eating a gluten-free diet for 12 months on AGA levels in 13 people with psoriasis and high AGA levels.

After 12 months, those with very high (>30 U/ml) AGA levels saw an average 56% decrease in Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) scores. Those with high (11.5–30.0 U/ml) AGA levels saw an average 36% decrease in scores.

In 2018, the medical board of the National Psoriasis Foundation reviewed 55 studies to make dietary recommendations for the treatment of psoriasis. They gave a weak recommendation of following a gluten-free diet. But this is only for people who show signs of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

This means that any reduction in psoriasis symptoms after eliminating gluten may be attributed to the management of the digestive condition.

You should only follow a gluten-free diet if you’ve received a diagnosis of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

The public perception of gluten has worsened over recent years. However, most of the claims surrounding gluten-free diets — weight loss promotion, decreased risk of heart disease, and improved gut health — aren’t supported by scientific research.

Numerous downsides may be associated with removing gluten from your diet if you don’t have a medical reason to do so. These may include:

  • nutrient deficiencies
  • difficulty purchasing and preparing foods
  • increased cost
  • negative social experiences

Speak with a healthcare professional if you think gluten may be worsening your symptoms of psoriasis. They can help develop a treatment and dietary plan that’s safe, healthy, and right for you.

Does cutting out gluten help psoriasis?

Some research suggests that cutting out gluten from your diet may help with psoriasis symptoms. However, this is only if you have received a diagnosis or show signs of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. A gluten-free diet is unnecessary for people with psoriasis who don’t have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.

Does wheat trigger psoriasis?

Eating gluten products like wheat may trigger an immune response that could worsen psoriasis symptoms in people with a gluten intolerance or celiac disease. However, gluten doesn’t cause psoriasis.

Is psoriasis a celiac disease?

Psoriasis and celiac disease are both autoimmune conditions. However, psoriasis is not a type of celiac disease.

Should people with psoriatic arthritis avoid gluten?

The relationship between gluten and psoriatic arthritis also isn’t clear. If you have psoriatic arthritis, it’s best to only avoid gluten if you received a diagnosis of gluten intolerance or celiac disease. If you think eating gluten triggers your symptoms, speak with a healthcare professional. Avoiding gluten may lead to complications.

Research suggests that gluten may worsen psoriasis symptoms if you also have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. As such, following a gluten-free diet may help improve your symptoms.

Gluten doesn’t cause psoriasis, and following a gluten-free diet probably won’t improve psoriasis symptoms if you don’t have gluten sensitivity.

If you suspect you have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, talk with a healthcare professional like a registered dietitian. They may recommend you try a gluten-free diet and can offer support as you transition to that eating style.