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Hypomelanosis of Ito

Other Names for this Disease
  • Incontinentia pigmenti achromians
  • Incontinentia pigmenti type 1 (formerly)
  • IPA
  • ITO
  • Ito hypomelanosis
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Your Question

What is hypomelanosis of Ito?

Our Answer

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

What is hypomelanosis of Ito?

Hypomelanosis of Ito, also called incontinentia pigmenti achromians, is a rare birth defect that causes streaked, whirled, or mottled patches of light-colored skin. These skin changes often develop within the first two years of life. Other symptoms may include varying degrees of learning disability, seizures, increased body hair, scoliosis, and strabismus. The underlying cause of the condition is currently unknown. Girls tend to be affected more commonly than boys.[1][2]
Last updated: 2/24/2012

What are the symptoms of hypomelanosis of Ito?

Hypomelanosis of Ito is characterized by streaked, whirled, or mottled patches of light-colored skin along the Blaschko lines. Other associated symptoms vary. The following symptoms have been described in cases of hypomelanosis of Ito reported in the medical literature.

Central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) defects
Learning difficulties
Mental retardation
Motor retardation
Small head size
Large head size
Low muscle tone
Strabismus (eyes are misdirected)
Nystagmus (sudden involuntary eye movements)
Retinal degeneration
Skeletal defects (e.g., short stature, facial and limb asymmetry)
Tooth abnormalities
Chest that caves in (pectus excavatum)
Chest that caves out (pectus carinatum)
Finger anomalies
Last updated: 2/24/2012

What causes hypomelanosis of Ito?

In many cases the cause of hypomelanosis of Ito can not be determined.[1] Some cases have been associated with an underlying chromosomal abnormality. The skin patterning may reflect “mosaicism.”[2] In mosaicism the person has some cells with normal chromsomes, and some with the chromosomal or gene abnormality. Click here to view an illustration of mosaicism.
Last updated: 2/24/2012

Is hypomelanosis of Ito genetic?

Usually hypomelanosis of Ito is sporadic. “Sporadic” denotes either a genetic disorder that occurs for the first time in a family due to a new mutation or the chance occurrence of a non-genetic disorder or abnormality that is not likely to recur in a family.

Cases of autosomal dominant, autosomal recessive, and X-linked inheritance has also been reported in the literature. Click on the links to read more about these different modes of inheritance by visiting the the MedlinePlus information pages on these topics. The risks for future offspring to inherit hypomelanosis of Ito would depend on the type of inheritance in the family (i.e., sporadic, autosomal dominant, autosomal recessive…) To learn more about your specific recurrence risks we recommend that you speak with a genetics professional.

Last updated: 2/24/2012

How can I find a genetics professional in my area?

Genetics clinics are a source of information for individuals and families regarding genetic conditions, treatment, inheritance, and genetic risks to other family members. More information about genetic consultations is available from Genetics Home Reference. To find a genetics clinic, we recommend that you contact your primary healthcare provider for a referral.

The following online resources can help you find a genetics professional in your community:

Last updated: 1/21/2014

How might hypomelanosis of Ito be diagnosed?

When hypomelanosis of Ito is suspected, careful evaluation with a Wood's lamp may help confirm the diagnosis. Additional genetic testing may be recommended to discover any related medical problems.[1]
Last updated: 2/24/2012

How might hypomelanosis of Ito be treated?

Currently there is not a cure for hypomelanosis of Ito. Therapies are aimed at treating the symptoms in the child (e.g., seizures, scoliosis, strabismus). Children with this condition often receive their care from a multidisciplinary team of healthcare providers, including a pediatric ophthalmologist, neurologist, orthopedic specialist and others as needed. The overall prognosis of the child will depend on the severity of the associated symptoms.[1][2]
Last updated: 2/24/2012