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Ichthyosis

(Fish Scale Disease; Xeroderma)

Definition

Ichthyosis is a dry skin condition. There are 2 types:

Causes

Inherited ichthyosis is caused by a genetic defect that is passed from parent to child or that occurs on its own.
Acquired ichthyosis is relatively rare, but may be caused by any of the following:

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase the chance of ichthyosis include:
Ichthyosis may be triggered by:

Symptoms

Ichthyosis can develop on any part of the body, but most often occurs on the legs, arms, or trunk. The symptoms can vary from mild to severe. In severe cases, the condition may be disfiguring. Symptoms may include:
With certain rare types of inherited ichthyosis, symptoms:

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Rarely, blood tests may be required.
Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:
Skin Biopsy
Skin proceedure
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Treatment

Since there is no cure for ichthyosis, treatment consists of managing the symptoms. Most treatment is aimed at keeping the skin moist. In severe cases, medication may be prescribed. For the acquired form, treating the underlying condition may also help lessen the symptoms of the ichthyosis.

Moisturizing Skin

Many types of moisturizing ointments, lotions, and creams are used to relieve symptoms of ichthyosis. These include:
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Mineral oil
  • Creams, lotions, and ointments containing vitamin A
  • A large variety of over-the-counter, unscented moisturizers
For ichthyosis that causes scaling:
  • Solutions or creams with lactic or salicylic acid or urea may help.
  • In some cases, it may be advised to wrap affected areas with a plastic or cellophane bandage after applying a moisturizing agent. Such bandages should not be used on children.

Medications

In severe cases, medications are sometimes prescribed, including:
  • Retinoids to unclog pores and allow other topical medications to work better
  • Antipsoriatic medications used to treat psoriasis symptoms
  • Antibiotics to treat infection
  • Calcineurin inhibitors applied to the skin to treat symptoms of atopic dermatitis
  • Special soaps to disinfect the affected area

Prevention

There are no current guidelines to prevent the development of ichthyosis. However, steps to prevent this condition from getting worse include:

RESOURCES

Foundation for Ichthyosis & Related Skin Types http://www.firstskinfoundation.org

The National Registry for Ichthyosis and Related Disorders http://www.skinregistry.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Dermatology Association http://www.dermatology.ca

Dermatologists.ca http://www.dermatologists.ca

References

Ichthyosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 11, 2013. Accessed January 22, 2015.

Newly diagnosed? Foundation for Ichthyosis & Related Skin Types website. Available at: http://www.firstskinfoundation.org/content.cfm/Ichthyosis/Newly-Diagnosed/page%5Fid/1245. Accessed November 21, 2013.

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