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Ichthyosis: What Is It? and How to Treat It?

Ichthyosis Vulgaris is a skin ailment that causes scaly skin, mainly on the arms and legs. It is sometimes referred to as common ichthyosis or fish scale disease. Its name is taken from a Greek word that means fish.

It is possible for this condition to be genetic or to develop later in life as a result of specific exposures.

What Is Ichthyosis?

person with Ichthyosis

A set of roughly 20 skin disorders known as ichthyosis result in scaling and dry skin.

The name of the disorder derives from the Greek word for fish because the skin resembles fish scales. It may also be referred to as fish skin disease or fish scales.

People with this disorder lose the barrier preventing moisture from escaping their skin.

Additionally, they produce skin cells too quickly or remove them too slowly. As a result, thick, scaly skin accumulates.

Although there is no known answer on how to treat ichthyosis, there are ways to lessen the scaliness and improve your comfort.

At Team Dermatology, we make sure to provide a broad selection of medical skin care procedures to address a variety of conditions, including hair loss, rosacea, psoriasis, warts, rashes, and acne.

We take pride in customizing treatment strategies to meet the specific needs of each patient.

Who is Affected by Ichthyosis?

Both sexes and persons of all races can develop this condition. The ichthyosis Vulgaris gene is fairly widespread. However, acquired ichthyosis Vulgaris is uncommon and primarily affects adults.

When a person has hereditary ichthyosis, at least one of their parents typically also had dry, scaly skin as children.

Types Of Ichthyosis

The following are ichthyosis types:

  • Vulgar Ichthyosis. About one in every 250 are impacted by it, where scales that are gray, brown, or white can appear in young children.
  • Recessive Ichthyosis with the X gene. It only affects men and affects roughly 1 in 6,000 people. Your risk of developing testicular cancer may increase, and women may experience labor issues and be carriers.

Ichthyosis Causes

If you’re wondering how you get ichthyosis, the causes of this condition are divided into two, which are inherited and acquired:

Inherited Ichthyosis

Ichthyosis on a child

Ichthyosis that is inherited indicates that you received it from your parents. The instructions your body receives from genes to produce proteins dictate how your body appears and works. A gene’s modifications or mutations can result in disease.

The condition’s gene alterations impact the proteins that shield and maintain the moisture of your skin. They also have an impact on how rapidly your body regenerates or sheds skin cells.

Early childhood is typically when this condition first manifests. You are more likely to have a serious disease if both of your parents carry the gene than if only one of them does.

Acquired Ichthyosis

Inherited Ichthyosis

Adulthood is when acquired ichthyosis manifests. Although its etiology is unknown, those who have it frequently also have the following conditions:

  • A thyroid gland that is inactive
  • Kidney disease
  • Sarcoidosis, an uncommon condition that results in inflammatory lesions inside the body, can lead to cancers like Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Having HIV

The illness might also be brought on by some medications.

Ichthyosis Symptoms

At birth or within the first several months of life, symptoms start to show up in the hereditary types.

The primary symptom is dry, scaly skin. If you’re wondering what part of the skin is affected by ichthyosis, only some areas of the body develop scales, such as the:

  • Trunk
  • Legs
  • Stomach
  • Buttocks

The scales may be gray, dark brown, or white. They could be pierced by large or little fissures.

In cold, dry weather, dryness and scaling become more severe. Warmer weather typically makes them better.

Other symptoms of people with ichthyosis include:

  • Skin sensitivity
  • Peeling
  • Hand and foot soles are both racked with pain lines.
  • tight skin that restricts movement

Complications of Ichthyosis

Your body’s barrier is your skin. It retains moisture within and keeps out invaders like bacteria that could make you ill. You lose some of this barrier when the condition causes skin scales to fall off.

Scaling may result in issues like:

  • Infections as a side effect
  • Dehydration
  • obstruction of the sweat glands, which can cause overheating
  • Scalp hair that grows slowly
  • Burning more calories since it takes more effort for the skin to replace its cells
  • Emotional problems might also result from the condition. The scales may alter how you seem. People who have this illness occasionally experience poor self-esteem and depressive symptoms.

Ichthyosis on a hand

Ichthyosis Diagnosis

It might occasionally be so mild that it resembles normal-dry skin. Consult a dermatologist for therapy if the dryness and scaling are bothering you.

They might:

  • Take a biopsy, which is a sample of skin that will be examined under a microscope.
  • Check your saliva for gene alterations that lead to specific kinds of ichthyosis.

Treatment for Ichthyosis

Although there is no cure, treatments can assist you to manage your dry, scaly skin and work on how to prevent ichthyosis.

Every day, apply cream, lotion, or ointment to your skin to increase moisture.

While your skin is still damp after the shower or bath, apply the lotion or petroleum jelly right away. This will aid in retaining moisture.

Additionally, you might try:

  • Take a saltwater bath.
  • Use a pumice stone to scrub your skin.
  • Use a product containing salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or lactic acid to remove dead skin.

When to Seek Professional Help

dermatologist examining patient for a possible ichthyosis

Ichthyosis is not fatal, but it can drastically alter a person’s life.

To improve the appearance and health of your skin, a dermatologist may suggest certain procedures.

Two clinics operated by Team Dermatology are conveniently placed in Texas, one in Memorial, Houston, and the other in Sugar Land.

The board-certified dermatologists at Team Dermatology are devoted to giving their patients the best possible medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology care. To assist every patient in enhancing the health and appearance of their skin is our specialists’ primary goal.

Contact us today!

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TEAM Dermatology advises you of the departure of Dr. Kuda Maloney from our Memorial and Sugar Land locations in November of  2023.  Dr. Maloney will be pursuing interests outside of private practice and we wish her the best in achievement of her future endeavors. Please contact our office to arrange for your care with another provider in our offices.