Low-carb rashes?

I've been back to low-carb since early autumn and have finally, after some tweaking for protein and whatnot, got the BG side of things under pretty good control. Not perfect, but quite a bit better than when I was eating cereal, pasta, etc.

BUT .... my carb reduction has coincided with the development of a horrible, itchy rash that covers much of my torso — front and back. Now, I know that correlation doesn't equal causation; however, postings on various low-carb forums suggest that this rash does seem to be a phenomenon that others have experienced shortly after reducing their carb intake.

Typical responses to those postings deal with such things as allergies, candida die-off, wheat addiction withdrawal, blood pH imbalances ... and so on. Most threads include at least one comment about re-introducing carbs as the only sure-fire way of getting rid of the rash. Great!

I've tried antihistamines & anti-inflammatories (both OTC and natural), oatmeal baths, calamine lotion, apple cider vinegar, lemon water, cutting out most dairy (though I still eat high-fat yogurt and cream) ... but the rash persists (and is driving me crazy!).

Have any other low-carbers out there experienced this? More importantly, does anyone have any remedies, explanations, or prognoses?


Celiac is related to the same gene that causes LADA and Type 1. When you go gf, you actually will become more sensitive to allergies because the villi are released. I don’t have Celiac, but do have the gene and the diabetes. I’m gluten free, anyway, as are two of my dds. Sorry, this is a short answer to a much more complex problem, but really, my dd went off the wagon being gluten free, and she went back on because of the rash.

I second the idea of considering Celiac Disease. It causes a lot of horrible problems, including the possibility of a rash.

I've been tested for celiac within the past year - negative. But, in any case, I've been gluten-free for several weeks now. Wouldn't that improve any celiac symptoms?

I would certainly think so! Have you seen a dermatologist?

Not yet — I anticipate being put on cortisone cream (which messes with my blood sugar) and/or told to eat more carbs!

The testing for celiac disease is very unreliable and to my knowledge still only uses wheat gliandin instead of all the gluten type grains and corn. You have to be consuming gluten in a certain amount at the time of testing to be positive or meaningful. Read this site carefully http://www.cureceliacdisease.org/medical-professionals/screening.
It is from the U of Chicago Celiac Center. If you have underlying autoimmune disease, you need to add another test for IgA. Also, pay attention to a cousin of Celiac that results in a rash of the skin called DH, or dermatitis herpetiformis. This will get better on a stricly gluten free diet. However, I am unsure of just how long it takes to settle down. There is a school of thought that says that Celiac disease is at the end of a spectrum where gluten sensitivity is the other end. I’ve been on a Celiac list for years, and there is no simple answer about negative Celiac test results. As I said, I have the DQ2 gene and the antibodies for LADA, but my celiac tests were negative. My dds absolutely need to be gluten free. One had seizures that stopped once she gave up gluten, and she gets very ill at gluten exposure, now.

One of the ironies of Celiac, is that you may react more stongly to food allergies, in general, the longer you go gluten free because when you are a Celiac, your villi are battened down, like long finger-like lining that absorbs nutrients are glued down so that they do not absorb what they should be. Once they heal, you become more sensitive.

Have you gotten a Dexa scan for your bone density? If that is not good, you have another clue that you may be Celiac.

Also, there are some ethnicities that carry Celiac genes more than others. I’m Irish with the worst statistics in the world. I got genetic testing to help all my offspring manage their lives better. Another ironic thing is that I did this before I suspected I was diabetic. My fasting blood sugar was normal, so my Endo was adamant that I was not a diabetic. I showed him my genetic test, and he tested me. The rest is history.

Thanks for this info, Sheila. I did read about DH, and, apart from the itchiness, my rash doesn't seem to match the typical characteristics. Also, the rash began shortly after I removed gluten and lowered my carbs (I never had anything of the sort while I was eating gluten) — which makes me think something about those dietary changes triggered the skin troubles. The allergy/sensitivity hypothesis is an interesting one; however, if I did have celiac, I doubt there was enough time between my cutting out gluten and the onset of the rash for damaged villi to have recovered.

Yes. I had this when I tried to keep 30 carbs a day. Had to go back to higher numbers and now BG jumps. I had the same rash before DX, så it was definetly the ketosis rash from “starvation” mode. Minus high BG :-). Hate it!

And it went away in 2 days after adding carbs back. Same happend in the hospital wuth insulin