Ichthyosis is a skin condition characterized by scaly skin that collects on the outer layer of the epidermis. The condition is usually inherited if one or both parents have the gene, however ichthyosis can also be acquired as a side effect of certain medical disorders. The condition occurs in many forms, ranging from mild to severe, and depending on the type of ichthyosis present, symptoms and treatments may vary. At Laserderm Dermatology & Cosmetic Laser Surgery, we work with patients to diagnose the form of ichthyosis present and provide the most effective treatment option.
Why is Ichthyosis Problematic?
Ichthyosis affects the body’s natural ability to shed dead skin cells and instead creates a chronic buildup of cells that are not able to flake away and shed normally. The condition is often referred to as “fish scale disease” because of the scale-like rash that ichthyosis creates. Milder forms of ichthyosis will not usually cause physical discomfort, but the condition can cause psychological concerns since it is not an aesthetically pleasing disorder.
Oftentimes ichthyosis causes excessive skin dryness during winter months, adding to any discomfort the condition may present. The onset of warmer and more humid seasons usually brings about much relief for those who have ichthyosis, however the buildup of skin may prevent proper sweating and keep the body from cooling properly in the heat. Other times, the cracks in the skin may turn into lesions and become infected.
Signs and Symptoms of Ichthyosis
If ichthyosis is inherited, then the condition may be present right at birth. However, many children do not show signs of the disorder until they are older. Specific signs and symptoms depend on the category of ichthyosis present, but typical signs include dry or scaly skin, excessive skin peeling, and blistering. More severe versions of the disorder cause overheating, pain and infection.
Your Consultation at Laserderm Dermatology & Cosmetic Laser Surgery
Many skin conditions exhibit characteristics that look similar to other disorders, which is why it is important to rule out as many conditions as possible and narrow down your treatment options. During an initial consultation with one of our physicians, we will perform a skin evaluation along with skin scrapings or skin biopsies to closely examine the disorder and create a precise diagnosis. We will also asses your medical history and learn more about the timeline of your symptoms. We want to know whether there are any factors that worsen or alleviate symptoms, whether the condition runs in your family, when you first noticed your symptoms and more. Our goal is to understand your most pressing concerns and provide a solution that leaves you feeling comfortable and gives you peace of mind.
Available Treatment Options that Can Help Alleviate Symptoms
There is no cure for ichthyosis, which means that the treatment options available are symptomatic in nature. By controlling the symptoms of the condition, you should be able to carry out everyday activities without feeling the discomfort associated with the disorder. Depending on your symptoms and the severity of the condition, we may recommend alpha hydroxy acids in the form of lactic acid, salicylic acid or propylene glycol, which help catalyze the shedding and resurfacing of skin cells. Alpha hydroxy acids also have moisturizing qualities, which help combat the dryness associated with ichthyosis.
Retinoid creams may also be beneficial for ichthyosis, since they improve the efficiency of dead skin cell removal and keep pores clear of any bacteria. Retinoids consist mainly of vitamin A and are known to stimulate the production of collagen in the body. When collagen is produced, it directly impacts damaged, wounded or dead skin to restore it with a new and healthier layer. With limited use, retinoids can increase the turnover of skin cell generation in patients with ichthyosis.
The physicians at Laserderm Dermatology & Cosmetic Laser Surgery may also suggest preventative solutions that help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with ichthyosis. Bathing with mild soaps will usually lessen the chances of the skin becoming irritated as well as the application of over-the-counter moisturizers multiple times a day and immediately after bathing. Certain detergents may also cause symptoms to worsen, so it may be best to use milder laundry soaps on your clothing. Additionally, if you live in an area where weather conditions are dry, using a humidifier while at home will help keep your skin moist. The best way to determine how you can relieve the symptoms of ichthyosis is to contact Laserderm Dermatology & Cosmetic Laser Surgery. Not only can we provide you with an accurate diagnosis, but we can prescribe and suggest treatment methods — for both medical and at-home use — that can increase your everyday comfort. Don’t let your symptoms make you feel as though you have no options. Call our office today to learn more about ichthyosis and the treatments available to you.