Ichthyosis – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

March 25 01:39 2019 Print This Article

Ichthyosis is a skin disorder which causes the formation of dry, fish-like scales on the skin’s surface. The condition often begins in early childhood and is usually lifelong. People with ichthyosis have normal lifespan. However they usually have to spend several hours each day caring for their skin. The ichthyoses are a group of genetic skin diseases caused by an abnormality in skin growth that results in drying and scaling. There are at least 20 types of ichthyosis. Ichthyosis can be more or less severe, sometimes accumulating thick scales and cracks that are painful and bleed. Ichthyosis is not contagious because it is inherited. The most common form of ichthyosis is called ichthyosis vulgaris and occurs in approximately one person in every 250 and is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner.

The most rare types of ichthyosis occur in fewer than one person in one million and are inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. Ichthyosis vulgaris, also known as ichthyosis simplex, is inherited as an autosomal trait and is characterized by scaly (fishlike) areas of skin. The first scaly skin problems usually appear after 3 months of age. The palms and soles are often affected. Areas that tend to be spared include the axillae (the armpits), the antecubital fossa (the inside area at the bend of the elbow ) and the popliteal fossa (behind the knee ). The gene responsible for ichthyosis vulgaris has been mapped to chromosome band 1q21. The product of this gene is thought to be a substance called filaggrin (abbreviated FLG) which may act as the ” keratin matrix protein ” in cells of the stratum corneum, one of the layers of the skin.

Dry, rectangular scales on the skin. Like fish scales. From the Greek “ichthys” meaning fish. Ichthyosis is often seen in eczema and atopic dermatitis, but can also be an inherited disorder. There are several types of ichthyosis including ichthyosis vulgaris, or common ichthyosis which occurs in men. Ichthyosis almost start in childhood or infancy, or may develop later. Normally body continuously renews its skin surface making new skin cells and shed the older ones from the surface. But ichthyosis disturb this balance either because too many new skin cells are produced or because the skin cells do not separate well from the skin surface when it is their time to drop off. This results in thick flakes that adhere to the body and can resemble fish scales.

Causes of Ichthyosis

The cause of ichthyosis depends on the type. Inherited forms of ichthyosis occur as a result of a genetic mutation. The mutated gene is passed on from one generation to the next. However, within a family there may only be one person affected. This can happen if the gene is recessively inherited (you have inherited two recessive genes, one from each parent), or you are the founder of a spontaneously mutated gene. The mutated gene causes an abnormality in the normal lifecycle of skin. Whilst in most people, the growth, dying and shedding of skin happens unnoticed, people with ichthyosis reproduce new skin cells at a rate faster than they can shed it, or reproduce at a normal rate but the rate of shedding is too slow. Either way there is a build up of dry scaly skin.

Find common causes and risk factors of Ichthyosis:

  • Genetic disorder that is passed from parent to child or that occurs spontaneously.
  • Use of harsh soaps or detergents make the skin dry and causes the disease.
  • Cold weather also an important factor to consider.
  • Certain soaps or lotions containing certain scents or perfumes may also trigger the syndrome.

Signs and Symptoms of Ichthyosis

Sign and symptoms may include the following:

  • Itching of skin.
  • Dry skin, scaling skin and flaking skin.
  • Mild itching.
  • Body odor.
  • Thick scales and cracks.
  • Rough skin.

Treatment for Ichthyosis

Ichthyosis can be treated, but it cannot be cured. The treatments are designed to relieve the symptoms. Common treatments are to moisturize and exfoliate the skin. This helps prevent dryness, scaling, cracking and build-up of skin.

Treatment may include:

  • Use of moisture retaining creams or ointments such as Petrolatum,lanolin or urea-containing preparations after a bath or shower helps in maintaining the skin moisture.
  • Retinoids are also used for some conditions.
  • Some times exposure to sunlight can improve the condition.
  • If there is skin infections or if body odor,use of antibiotics time to time is helpfull.
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