Ichthyosis is a chronic skin disease that is characterized by thick, dry and rough patches on the skin. The word Ichthyosis is derived from a Greek word that means fish, it is so as in the said condition the appearance of the patches resemble the scales of a fish. Ichthyosis is actually a term which is used for a family of related skin disorder, thus there are more than 20 different types of ichthyosis. The severity of the condition can range from mild to even life threatening in some rare cases. The most common type of Ichthyosis is ichthyosis vulgaris which amounts for more than 95% of the cases.
Types of Ichthyosis
Ichthyosis Vulgaris – The most common type of ichthyosis which is caused due to an abnormal gene. The condition is characterized by rough, dry and scaly skin that appears during the early years i.e. before the age of one.
X-linked Ichthyosis – Here scales appear shortly after birth, the said condition is more prevalent in males than in females.
Lamellar Ichthyosis – The said condition is seen in babies, here the baby is covered in a thick membrane at birth which is later shed but scales are still present all over the body.
Epidermolytic Ichthyosis – Here the baby is born with red, moist and delicate skin with blisters. Scaling occurs during the early growth years.
Acquired Ichthyosis – Acquired Ichthyosis is not inherited and is caused during adulthood due to some other medical condition such as kidney issues, underactive thyroid, HIV infection and lymphoma which is a type of cancer.
About Ichthyosis Vulgaris
Ichthyosis Vulgaris is the most common type of ichthyosis that first appears in the early years of life and the said chronic condition of the skin lasts for a lifetime. The disorder can affect both men and women. The condition is characterized by dry, rough, scaly scales caused by thickening of the stratum corneum, often keratosis pilaris is also associated with the condition. The condition mostly improves in the summer and gets worsen during the winters. Although the condition does not cause scratching but as it is not a very pretty sight to see the condition affects the quality of life negatively especially in advanced cases.
Causes of Ichthyosis
Primary cause of Ichthyosis is hereditary but there are also acquired forms of the disorder. Ichthyosis Vulgaris the most common form of the disease, the said form is inherited. The disorder is caused because of an abnormal gene which is inherited from a parent. Ichthyosis can also be acquired in adult life because of other medical conditions such as an underactive thyroid, HIV infection, sarcoidosis, cancer and some other disorders. Some forms of Ichthyosis can also be caused due to certain medications. Drugs containing nicotinic acid and some forms of targeted cancer therapy can also cause ichthyosis.
Treatment for Ichthyosis
Although there is no curative treatment against ichthyosis there are steps that are to be taken to lessen the severity of the condition and provide relief. Vaseline or other moisturizing creams with keratolytics and salicylic acid are to be applied twice a day. Some dermatological oils are also used to provide relief from the condition. In children creams and oils should only be used under strict adult supervision. Mostly acitretin is prescribed for ichthyosis vulgaris but the same can cause side effects especially in children. Also it is recommended that the said drug be avoided during pregnancy. Some other tips that can be used for relief are bathing in salt water, exfoliating the affected area a using sponge, consumption of Vitamin D supplements for enhanced immunity and oral antibiotics for care against secondary and related disorders. During winters symptoms of ichthyosis vulgaris may worsen hence extra precaution and care should be taken. During winters wear warm and multiple layers of clothing, keep yourself hydrated, strengthen your immune system by intake of fresh fruits and vegetables that are rich in Vitamin C and use different ointments that one uses during summer and check for improved results.