Under normal circumstances, the body's skin surface is constantly renewed, with new skin cells being formed and older cells being shed. Ichthyosis throws this balance off, either by producing too many replacement skin cells or by the skin cells failing to detach well from the skin surface when it's time to fall off. As a result, skin cells build up into thick flakes that stick to the body and resemble fish scales.
Ichthyosis is a skin ailment that presents a lot of cosmetic issues for the individual who has it. It is not, however, a contagious disease. The disorder can also make it difficult for the skin to protect against infection, avoid dehydration, and regulate body temperature.
The most common form of ichthyosis is ichthyosis Vulgaris, which is the disease's mildest form. It affects one in every 250 people.
Ichthyosis signs and symptoms
The skin can flake in various patterns depending on the type of gene defect that causes ichthyosis. Skin flakes throughout the majority of the body in most cases of ichthyosis Vulgaris, but not on the interior surfaces of joints, in the groin area, or on the face.
All genetic varieties of ichthyosis have symptoms that are visible at birth or arise during childhood. Among the signs and symptoms are:
Severe skin dryness with thickening and flaking can happen in just a few places, or it can cover almost all of the surface of the skin.
Itching of the skin that isn't severe.
Because bacteria or fungi can accumulate in the crevices under and between skin flakes, body odour might develop.
Hearing problems are caused by wax buildup in the ears.
Nerve damage, deafness, and loss of the sense of smell are examples of hereditary disorders that affect portions of the body other than the skin. Certain malignancies, such as lymphoma, can cause ichthyosis in adults.
Because warmth and humidity improve these symptoms, skin dryness is frequently worse in the winter and in dry locations. Many people with ichthyosis Vulgaris also suffer from allergies, such as nasal congestion, asthma, or eczema.
Diagnosis of ichthyosis
Ichthyosis is mainly diagnosed by looking at the skin. Family history is also extremely beneficial. A skin biopsy may be performed in some circumstances to help confirm the diagnosis. A biopsy involves removing a small sample of skin and examining it under a microscope. Genetic testing may be useful in making a diagnosis in some cases.
The majority of ichthyosis instances are hereditary in nature and will persist for a lifetime. Adult-onset ichthyosis can develop in conjunction with another disease, and if the underlying disease is treated, the ichthyosis may resolve. Symptoms can be controlled in most people.
Prevention of ichthyosis
It is impossible to prevent ichthyosis. As with other genetic disorders, there is a chance that the gene will be passed on to the children of an affected parent.
Treatment of ichthyosis
All varieties of ichthyosis are treated by rehydrating the skin and allowing for more aggressive shedding of dead skin cells. When ichthyosis causes severe symptoms, regular visits to a dermatologist can help.
Use moisture-retaining lotions or ointments after a bath or shower to ensure that moisture is retained on the skin surface. Preparations containing petrolatum, lanolin, or urea are excellent for keeping skin moisturized.
Medicines that increase the shedding of skin flakes are also beneficial. Lotions and creams containing lactic acid or other "alpha-hydroxy acids" fall into this category.
Antibiotics may be required from time to time if the ichthyosis causes scratching, which can lead to skin infections, or if body odour is a big issue.
When should you see a doctor?
Because ichthyosis can make the skin less effective as an infection barrier, it's crucial to see a doctor if you have a fever or see redness on your skin.
Prognosis of ichthyosis
Ichthyosis is usually extremely treatable with sustained successful therapy and proper skincare advice. Some types of ichthyosis improve with age. If skin abnormalities are severe or the condition is accompanied by a major disease in other parts of the body, rare forms of ichthyosis can be life-threatening, even in infancy.