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Been working among chemicals. Developed snake skin. What is it? Treatable?

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Practicing since : 2005
Answered : 1390 Questions
My husband is a machinist and sometimes works in a chemical, been on job 25 years. Now his hands looks like snake skin. We have been to dermintologist even in Atlanta. Diabetic. this hand condition have been going on for at least 3 years. During the summer he came in contact with something that went up his arm. Hospital said never seen nothing like it. cleared up after 3 dr. he places on his neck that scarry.
Posted Mon, 7 May 2012 in Skin Hair and Nails
Answered by Dr. Sudarshan 5 hours later
Hi Dear,

Thanks for posting your query.
The symptoms that you have described can occur in a multitude of diseases.

As I believe that more information can help a physician help a patient better, I would request you to answer the following questions:
• Did you have a similar problem in the past?
• Does the lesion itch? If yes, how severe is it?
• Do you have any similar lesions on any other part of the body like face, neck, groin, trunk ?
• Do you have any other known allergies/food/drug sensitivity?
• Do you have fever /sore throat /joint pain /any other symptoms?
• Does it has scaling?
Any seasonal improvement or worsening?
Is his diabetes under control?
Any history occupational contact dermatitis?

A photograph of skin lesions can be helpful.

A physical examination is a must before any conclusion can be reached and therapy can be started. I would suggest that you visit a competent dermatologist so that the lesion can be examined and appropriate therapy can be prescribed.

Awaiting your response.
Dr Sudarshan
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Been working among chemicals. Developed snake skin. What is it? Treatable? 24 hours later
The hands are not itchy but scaly. The diabetes is under control with medication.
I was to get some other suggestion besides going to dermintologist. Some medical information on this condition. My husband is a veteran in the viet nam war also. No fever or sore throat. His nerves makes him pick at his hands. History of exezema
Answered by Dr. Sudarshan 9 hours later

Thanks for the follow up.

Snake like skin can be due to ichthyosis.

Acquired ichthyosis usually occurs in adults and manifests as small, white, fishlike scales that frequently are concentrated on the extremities;but may be seen in a generalized distribution.
This form of ichthyosis may be associated with XXXXXXX neoplasia (eg, Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia), systemic illness (e.g., sarcoidosis, HIV infection, hypothyroidism, chronic hepatitis, malabsorption), bone marrow transplantation, or due to certain medications that interfere with sterol synthesis in epidermal cells (e.g., nicotinic acid, lipid lowering agents like statin).

Diabetes itself or Statin drugs like pravastatin may be the cause of ichthyosis in your case.

However other causes Ichthyosis needs to be ruled out with some basic and advanced investigation. Once the cause is known it needs to be treated.

Skin changes can be treated with emollients and moisturizers.

Without full information, history of previous treatment and consultations, photographs of the lesion, examination it’s difficult to comment on skin lesion.

Hope I’ve answered your query. I may be able to comment more once you upload a photograph of the affected skin and provide me with additional information that I requested.


Dr Sudarshan
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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