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Dr. Andrew Rynne
MD
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Skin Disorders Ichthyosis

Ichthyosis

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Ichthyosis is a skin disorder that causes dead skin cells to accumulate in thick, dry scales on the skin's surface. These scales can be present at birth, but usually first appear in early childhood. Sometimes Ichthyosis vulgaris disappears entirely for most of the adult years, only to return later. Ichthyosis can also be a sign of systemic disease.

Symptoms

  • Very dry, scaly skin
  • Tile-like scales that is small, polygonal in shape
  • Scales that range in color from white to dirty gray to brown
  • People with darker skin tend to have darker colored scales
  • Flaky scalp
  • In severe cases, deep painful cracks in the palms and soles
  • The scales usually appear on the elbows and lower legs and may be especially thick and dark over the shins. Though most cases of Ichthyosis are mild, some can be severe
  • Symptoms usually worsen or are more pronounced in cold, dry environments and tend to improve or even resolve in warm, humid environments

Causes

  • Most often, ichthyosis is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern, which means that a child has to inherit only one copy of the affected gene to develop the disease
  • Acquired ichthyosis
  • Systemic diseases (eg, leprosy, hypothyroidism, lymphoma, renal failure, AIDS)
  • Some drugs cause ichthyosis (eg, nicotinic acid, triparanol, butyrophenones)

Lifestyle and home remedies

Take long soaking baths to soften the skin. Then use a roughly-textured sponge, such as a loofa sponge, to remove the thickened scales


Apply the moisturizer or lubricating cream (petroleum jelly) while your skin is still wet or moist from bathing.

Treatment

Low concentrations salicylic acid, urea, ethylene glycol, and lactic acid containing creams or lotions will help


In severe cases, retinoids— medications derived from vitamin A. Side effects from the medication may include eye and lip inflammation, bone spurs and hair loss, as well as birth defects if taken during pregnancy.