Ichthyosis is a family of genetic skin disorders characterized by dry, thickened, scaly skin. The more than 20 types of ichthyosis range in severity of symptoms, outward appearance, underlying genetic cause and mode of inheritance (e.g., dominant, recessive, autosomal or X-linked). Ichthyosis comes from the Greek ἰχθύς ichthys, literally "fish", since dry, scaly skin is the defining feature of all forms of ichthyosis.
The severity of symptoms can vary enormously, from the mildest, most common, types such as ichthyosis vulgaris, which may be mistaken for normal dry skin, up to life-threatening conditions such as harlequin-type ichthyosis. Ichthyosis vulgaris accounts for more than 95% of cases.
Diabetes has not been definitively linked to acquired ichthyosis or ichthyosis vulgaris; however, there are case reports associating new onset ichthyosis with diabetes.
Ichthyosis has been found to be more common in Native American, Asian, Mongolian groups. There is no way to prevent ichthyosis.
Ichthyosis is a genetically and phenotypically heterogeneous disease that can be isolated and restricted to the skin manifestations or associated with extracutaneous symptoms. One of which is limb reduction defect known as CHILD syndrome; a rare inborn error of metabolism of cholesterol biosynthesis that is usually restricted to one side of the body. A research done in Egypt proved that it is not a child syndrome and discussed all the case report.
Treatments for ichthyosis often take the form of topical application of creams and emollient oils, in an attempt to hydrate the skin. Creams containing a high percentage of urea or lactic acid have been shown to work exceptionally well in some cases. Application of propylene glycol is another treatment method. Retinoids are used for some conditions.
Exposure to sunlight may improve or worsen the condition. In some cases, excess dead skin sloughs off much better from wet tanned skin after bathing or a swim, although the dry skin might be preferable to the damaging effects of sun exposure.
There can be ocular manifestations of ichthyosis, such as corneal and ocular surface diseases. Vascularizing keratitis, which is more commonly found in congenital keratitis-ichythosis-deafness (KID), may worsen with isotretinoin therapy.
Prognosis (vulgaris type):
The condition usually improves with age. For the most part, people who have ichthyosis vulgaris live a normal life, although they will probably always have to treat their skin. The disease rarely affects overall health.
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