What Is Ichthyosis? Best Home Treatment Tips 2022
If you’re stuck on how to even pronounce ‘ichthyosis’, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Let us give you a helping hand: ick-thee-oh-sis!
See wasn’t that hard, was it? And now we’re all on the same page, let’s get down to business.
What on earth is it? And how might it impact your life? Hopefully, that’s just the answers we’re about to provide you with :)
In this article, you’ll find:
- What is ichthyosis?
- Different types
- Common symptoms
- How is ichthyosis diagnosed?
- Potential risks
- Top home treatment tips
Let’s get to it!
So, what is ichthyosis?
Ichthyosis is the term used to define a group of conditions defined by rough and scaly skin. This could be inherited and experienced from birth, or be something that develops later in life.
The name itself originates from the Greek word for fish, as sometimes the skin can appear to look like fish scales. But trust us, this is where the resemblance between you and a fish ends (unless there’s something you’re not telling us).
The inherited kind is often chronic and remains throughout life, whereas the acquired type might develop as a result of other medical conditions.
When you suffer from ichthyosis, you may be missing an important structure of your epidermis that makes it very difficult to retain moisture. This is then what leads to the buildup of flaky skin and results in thick, scale-like patches appearing on the body.
This can be either passed down from parents, or develop as a genetic flaw very early on in the life of a fetus. The most common form is ichthyosis vulgaris.
This type affects roughly 1 in every 250 people and is down to a defect in the gene filaggrin, which is crucial in maintaining healthy, hydrated skin.
It usually develops in early childhood and is often more severe in winter (like many other skin conditions). It’s sometimes associated with eczema or atopic dermatitis, another common skin condition many children suffer from that causes the skin to dry out and become itchy.
Common spots to look out for are the arms and legs, where rough, dry skin and scales might begin to appear.
Other types of ichthyosis to be aware of are:
Click on the links above if you would like to know more on any of the specific conditions :)
Ichthyosis is caused by a gene default that’s responsible for the skin regrowth and shedding process. This can happen at random, but more commonly the gene is passed down from one (or both) parents.
The faulty gene responsible is down to the type of ichthyosis being suffered from. For the most common type, ichthyosis vulgaris, the condition follows an autosomal dominant pattern.
This means only 1 parent needs to have the mutated gene for it to pass to their child. For this reason, ichthyosis vulgaris is one of the most common genetic skin disorders.
If you develop ichthyosis as an adult later on in life, there’s a few other conditions it’s most likely tied to:
- Kidney failure
- Thyroid disease
Clearly, these are very serious conditions. As ever we recommend immediately consulting your doctor if you feel any of the above conditions might be a possibility.
The usual signs and symptoms of ichthyosis are:
- Flaky skin
- Intense itch
- Thickened skin
- Extremely dry patches
- Scales that are brown, gray or white
Often symptoms become worse in winter, when the air is drier, colder and contains less moisture.
How is ichthyosis diagnosed?
This can usually be done visually by a dermatologist. Sometimes they might conduct a blood test or skin biopsy to rule out other conditions such as psoriasis, which cause similar symptoms.
As with any skin condition, there’s always risks to be aware of. With ichthyosis, the following are most prevalent:
- Pain in moving limbs, especially if the skin has become particularly dry or cracked
- Overheating from blocked sweat glands
- Problems with vision or hearing, if skin builds up around eyes and ears
- Weight loss or weariness, as excessive skin regrowth saps more energy from the body
Top home treatment tips
1. Stop the need to itch
Although not the most prevalent symptom of this condition, itchy skin still plays a prominent part and can be very unsettling and tiring if it persists.
The best product we can recommend here, is our very own plant-based calming spray! Enriched with a blend of 3 traditional Chinese herbs used for 1000’s of years in Asian medicine, our unique natural formula has been especially designed to treat itchy, dry, irritated skin.
Anti-inflammatory by nature, it’s steroid, paraben and sulphate free, so always kind to your skin.
We’d recommend using it once a day, but always keep a bottle handy just in case your skin decides to erupt at a moment's notice!
2. Moisturise regularly
Can’t stress this enough. You’ve heard us blab on about how ichthyosis causes severe dry skin, so don’t be a stranger to the moisturiser bottle ESPECIALLY when you’ve just finished bathing.
Seriously, you’ve got a 2 minute window to get a thick, greasy emollient onto the skin to ensure your body retains the moisture it just gained from the shower. Don’t spend no time admiring yourself in the mirror now.
And in winter? You should be slapping on the stuff like it’s second nature.
3. Take regular baths
This can help to rehydrate your skin and soften the scale. Sometimes, if you’re suffering from open sores, your doctor might recommend covering your worst spots in petroleum jelly before getting wet.
4. Pumice stone to the rescue!
As mentioned when you soak in water for long periods, the scales on your skin will begin to soften. This is then the perfect opportunity to grab that friendly pumice stone and try to gently exfoliate your skin, hopefully reducing the scaling.
Be careful when you try this and don’t go too hard too early, start slow and test how your skin responds.
5. Watch out for infection
As with any open sores on your body, there’s always a chance of infection. To this end, you have to be hyper-sensitive to your body's needs and always keep a close eye on spots that begin weeping.
If you’re worried, visit your doctor or dermatologist immediately and they may prescribe a course of antibiotics to help you heal.
There we have it - our quick guide and simple home treatment tips for ichthyosis.
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The yan-yee team
- Ichthyosis Vulgaris: Diagnosis and treatment. (n.d.). Link
- Ichthyosis. (2019). Link-
- Dry skin and atopic eczema: the filaggrin story...what does it mean to you? (n.d.). Link
- Recessive X-linked ichthyosis. (2015). Link
- Richard G. (2001). Autosomal recessive congenital ichthyosis. Link
- Nonbullous congenital ichthyosiform erythroderma. (2011). Link
- Lamellar ichthyosis. (2016). Link
- Harlequin ichthyosis. (2020). Link
- Netherton syndrome. (2020). Link
- Ichthyosis. (2020). Link