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Ichthyosis - Symptoms and Treatment

Ichthyosis is a family of dermatological conditions seen in humans and domestic animals. Its literal translation is " fish skin", since people or animals with ichthyosis have scaly skin which can vaguely resemble the scales of a fish. Ichthyosis vulgaris, accounts for 95% of all ichthyosis cases. Inheritance is autosomal dominant i.e. it is passed from a parent to about half their children. Signs and symptoms of ichthyosis vulgaris usually become apparent within the first year of life. The other main forms of inherited ichthyosis include lamellar ichthyosis, epidermolytic hyperkeratosis, and X-linked ichthyosis. Acquired ichthyosis is not inherited and occurs for the first time in adulthood. It is usually associated with some general systemic disease, such as underactive thyroid states , sarcoidosis , lymphoma, generalised cancer or HIV infection . It may be provoked by certain medications (such as kava, nicotinic acid and hydroxyurea ).

Ichthyosis is the term for severe, persistent problems due to an abnormality of the outermost part of the skin, the epidermis. Ichthyosis causes the skin to build up and scale, causing it to be extremely dry, amongst other problems. Ichthyosis scaling can be very painful, can restrict the body's range of movement, cause deep cracks or fissures at the joints, and affect hearing. 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 bcurs ecause 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. It ocas a result of a number of different genetic disorders. There are different forms of Ichthyosis. The X-linked type is caused by steroid sulfatase (STS) deficiency.  90% of patients with X-linked Ichthyosis have either complete or partial deletion of the STS gene located on the X chromosome.  X-linked Ichthyosis rarely occurs among females and their symptoms a generally less pronounced. Couples with a familial history of Ichthyosis may take advantage of a new technology called Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD). 

Causes of Ichthyosis

Common Causes of Ichthyosis :

  • Harsh soaps or detergents
  • Genetic disorder that is passed from parent to child or that occurs spontaneously.
  • Cold weather
  • Frequent or prolonged bathing , especially in hot water .
  • Side effect of the disease like sarcoidosis , lymphoma , under-active thyroid , AIDS etc. may also be a cause of the disease.
  • Soaps or lotions containing certain scents or perfumes

Symptoms of Ichthyosis

The common causes and risk factor's of Ichthyosis include the following:

  • Itching of skin.
  • Burning and stinging sensation.
  • Tightening and cracking of the skin.
  • Dry, flaking skin.
  • Shedding of layers of the skin.
  • Scaling of skin that gives skin the appearance of fish scales.

Treatment of Ichthyosis

  • Solutions or creams with salicylic acid or alpha-hydroxy acids may also help in promoting shedding of skin flakes.
  • Some times exposure to sunlight can improve the condition.
  • A large variety of non-prescription , unscented moisturizers.
  • 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.
  • Disinfecting soap such as chlorhexidine can also helpfull in improving the condition.








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