Can you get gluten by kissing someone?

If you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, you can get “gluten” by kissing someone who has been eating, drinking, spreading, or chewing something that contains gluten. The severity of your reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, will determine how diligent you need to be when interacting with others.

It’s not just for romantic partners either. A quick peck on the cheek may expose your gluten. Other ways you can get gluten are kissing someone who:

  • eat a gluten-containing meal
  • Drinking gluten-containing beverages or alcoholic beverages
  • Have a beard or mustache with gluten stuck in it
  • wearing lipstick or other gluten-containing cosmetics

Essentially, if a person has any leftover gluten in their mouth, you’re consuming some too.

Is gluten from kissing really enough to make you sick?

Whether you are affected by secondhand gluten depends on your sensitivity to gluten. Unfortunately, for many people, trace amounts are enough to cause a reaction.

READ ALSO:  What is gastritis?

Even if you taste gluten-containing food, drink, or makeup on your significant other’s lips, you can expect a reaction. If your partner has eaten, drank, or used gluten-containing substances in the past few hours, you are still at risk, whether you taste it or not.

It’s not just about kissing on the lips – if you’re going to kiss someone’s face or neck (or even just swipe their lips over their cheek), you might want to ask them if they have makeup or foundation. Many makeup products, not just lipsticks and foundations, contain gluten. If you’re not sure you’re gluten-free, don’t risk it.

Minimize your risk of second-hand gluten exposure

Before kissing, your partner should brush with gluten-free toothpaste, rinse with gluten-free mouthwash, and then floss. If it’s a man who eats gluten and he has a beard, he needs to wash and brush his beard before kissing you, because that’s another place where crumbs and gluten traces can lurk. If your partner is female and she uses gluten-containing makeup, she needs to wash her face thoroughly.

READ ALSO:  Risk of Untreated Crohn's Disease

In addition to the above steps, time also helps. If you can, try to put off any intimacy for a few hours after eating gluten-rich foods or drinks.

If you are sensitive to gluten, it is important to explain to your partner the potential consequences of consuming gluten, even in trace amounts. If your partner or potential partner doesn’t take the necessary steps to prevent you from getting sick, they may not be the best person for you and your health.