Ichthyosis

(Fish Scale Disease; Xeroderma)

Definition

Ichthyosis is a dry skin condition. There are two types:
  • Inherited ichthyosis—dryness and scaling of the skin due to hereditary factors
  • Acquired ichthyosis—thickening and scaling of the skin that is associated with certain medical disorders

Causes

Inherited ichthyosis is caused by a genetic defect that is passed from parent to child or that occurs on its own. Acquired ichthyosis is relatively rare, but may be caused by any of the following:

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your risk of ichthyosis include:
  • Family member with ichthyosis
  • Certain diseases
Ichthyosis may be triggered by:
  • Cold weather
  • Frequent or lengthy bathing, especially in hot water
  • Harsh soaps or detergents
  • Soaps or lotions containing perfumes

Symptoms

Ichthyosis can develop on any part of the body, but most often occurs on the legs, arms, or trunk. The symptoms can vary from mild to severe. In severe cases, the condition may be disfiguring. Symptoms may include:
  • Dry, flaking skin
  • Scaling of skin that gives skin the appearance of fish scales
  • Shedding of layers of the skin
  • Itching of skin
  • In severe cases, scarring and/or infection due to rubbing and scratching of scales or blisters
With certain rare types of inherited ichthyosis, symptoms:
  • Appear immediately at birth
  • Are extremely severe, covering the entire body
  • Cause severe complications or death

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