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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Lamellar ichthyosis

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Your Question

I have a daughter with this skin condition. I would like to know if there is a cure for it yet, and what sort of treatments are best. I heard about the Garra rufa "skin eating fish" being used in some places to treat certain skin disorders; will using this fish work for this type of skin disorder?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

How might lamellar ichthyosis be treated?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for lamellar ichthyosis. Management is generally symptomatic and supportive. For neonates, providing a moist environment in an isolette, preventing infection by hygienic handling, and treating infection are most important. Petrolatum-based creams and ointments are used to keep the skin soft, supple, and hydrated. As affected children become older, keratolytic agents such as alpha-hydroxy acid or urea preparations may be used to promote peeling and thinning of the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of skin cells). For individuals with ectropion (turning out of the eyelid), lubrication of the cornea with artificial tears or prescription ointments, especially at night, is helpful in preventing desiccation (drying out) of the cornea. Oral retinoid therapy may be recommended for those with severe skin involvement; however, side effects of this include bone toxicity and other complications. This type of therapy should be used with caution in women of child-bearing age because of concerns about teratogenicity (harm that the therapy may cause an unborn fetus).[1]
Last updated: 6/23/2011

What information is available about the Garra rufa fish being used as a treatment for ichthyosis?

A thorough search of the available medical literature does not yield specific information about the use of ichthyotherapy (therapy with the Garra rufa fish) for treatment of ichthyosis. In a study published in 2006 in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the authors report about ichthyotherapy as an alternative treatment only for patients with psoriasis, and state that their findings suggest that ichthyotherapy could provide a viable treatment option for patients with psoriasis.[2] However, it cannot be assumed that the findings of this limited study apply to individuals with ichthyosis or any other skin condition.
Last updated: 6/23/2011