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Symptoms and treatment of ichthyosis

Ichthyosis is not simply a dry skin condition, but a family of dry of skin conditions that range in severity. Ichthyosis vulgaris, for example, is one of the mildest and most common forms, presenting with what many people write off as simply dry flaky skin. Harlequin ichthyosis is a congenital condition that causes large, bluish scales to develop that impede movement and are extremely prone to infection. This version of the condition can be fatal.

All told, there are at least 28 different types of ichthyosis. Some forms are genetic, while others present in association with other conditions such as Netherton syndrome or CHILD syndrome. Complex variations of the condition are difficult to diagnose and understand, however nearly 95 percent of ichthyosis cases aren't severe and are highly treatable.

Ichthyosis Causes and Symptoms

The most common form of ichthyosis, ichthyosis vulgaris, is a genetic condition, caused by mutation of the profilaggrin gene, which is responsible for skin structure. It is considered an autosomal dominant inherited condition, which means only one parent need have the defective gene in order for the child to have it.

Scaly skin is the most common symptom of ichthyosis vulgaris. It can range in severity from a small patch of flakiness to larger areas that are extremely dry, and can crack or bleed. Dry skin usually appears between the ages of three months and five years, and may improve as the sufferer ages.

Ichthyosis Treatment

There is no cure for ichthyosis, though the condition may come and go or decrease in severity. For mild cases, emollients that replenish moisture in the skin and can gently exfoliate scales away are recommended. For more severe cases, or oral retinoids may be prescribed.

Conditions Related to Ichthyosis

Miliaria, or prickly heat, is a common condition that occurs as a result of ichthyosis. Scales on the skin can cause sweat to build up, which results in the itchy feeling associated with prickly heat. Some sufferers of ichthyosis also experience complete anhydrosis, which is the inability to sweat.

Other dry skin conditions similar to ichthyosis include:

  • Psoriasis (an autoimmune disease that causes scaly red patches on the skin and in some cases inflammation of joints.)
  • Eczema (a persistent skin condition that causes redness, swelling, flaking and oozing or bleeding)
  • Lichen planus (a condition that causes an itchy skin rash)

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