Ichthyosis - Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Ichthyosis is the term for severe, persistent problems due to an abnormality of the outermost part of the skin, the epidermis. Ichthyosis causes the skin to build up and scale, causing it to be extremely dry, amongst other problems. Ichthyosis scaling can be very painful, can restrict the body's range of movement, cause deep cracks or fissures at the joints, and affect hearing. Ichthyosis almost start in childhood or infancy, or may develop later.
Normally body continuously renews its skin surface making new skin cells and shed the older ones from the surface. But ichthyosis disturb this balance either because too many new skin cells are produced or because the skin cells do not separate well from the skin surface when it is their time to drop off. This results in thick flakes that adhere to the body and can resemble fish scales.
It occurs as a result of a number of different genetic disorders. Some of these conditions primarily affect the skin such as: Ichthyosis Vulgaris; X-linked Ichthyosis; Non-Bullous Ichthyosiform Erythroderma; Lamellar Ichthyosis.
The possible symptoms for ichthyosis are as:-
- The main symptom are dry skin , scaling skin and flaking skin which may be appear only in limited areas or may involve almost the entire skin surface.
- Sometimes accumulating thick scales and cracks that are painful and bleed.
- Body odor is there because of bacteria infection.
- Mild itching of the skin.
- A person suffering from Ichthyosis may develop hearing difficulties because of wax formation in the ears.
- Symptoms are usually worse in winter months and in dry climates.
- Many people who have ichthyosis vulgaris also have allergic problems, such as allergic nasal congestion, asthma or eczema.
- Rarely appear immediately at birth or cause severe complications or death.
The main causes of ichthyosis are as:-
- Genetic disorder that is passed from parent to child or that occurs spontaneously.
- Cold weather also an important factor to consider.
- Frequent or prolonged bathing, especially in hot water.
- Use of harsh soaps or detergents make the skin dry and causes the disease.
- Certain soaps or lotions containing certain scents or perfumes may also trigger the syndrome.
- It is not caused by infection.
- Side effect of the disease like sarcoidosis ,lymphoma ,under-active thyroid ,AIDS etc. may also be a cause of the disease.
Treatment includes restoring of the skin's moisture and providing more aggressive shedding of dead skin cells .Treatment may be:
- Use of moisture retaining creams or ointments such as Petrolatum,lanolin or urea-containing preparations after a bath or shower helps in maintaining the skin moisture.
- A large variety of non-prescription, unscented moisturizers.
- Solutions or creams with salicylic acid or alpha-hydroxy acids may also help in promoting shedding of skin flakes.
- Some times exposure to sunlight can improve the condition.
- Products having ingredients like camphor, menthol, eucalyptus oil, aloe etc. are very effective in improving the condition.
- If there is skin infections or if body odor ,use of antibiotics time to time is helpfull.
- Retinoids are also used for some conditions.
- Disinfecting soap such as chlorhexidine can also helpfull in improving the condition.