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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Ichthyosis vulgaris


Other Names for this Disease
  • Common ichthyosis
  • Fish scale disease
  • Ichthyosis simplex
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Overview



What is ichthyosis vulgaris?

What are the signs and symptoms of ichthyosis?

What causes ichthyosis vulgaris?

How might ichthyosis vulgaris be treated?


What is ichthyosis vulgaris?

Ichthyosis vulgaris is a common skin disorder passed down through families that leads to dry, scaly skin.  It often begins in early childhood. Treatment may include heavy duty moisturizers which contain chemicals that help the skin to shed normally, including lactic acid, salicylic acid, and urea. Ichthyosis vulgaris can be a nuisance, but it rarely affects overall health. The condition usually disappears during adulthood, but may return in later years. This condition is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern.[1]
Last updated: 10/18/2013

What are the signs and symptoms of ichthyosis?

The main characteristic is dry, rough, scaly skin. The skin over the legs is most commonly affected, but other areas such as the arms, hands, and middle of the body may also be involved. Persons with this condition may also have many fine lines over the palm of the hand.[1]
Last updated: 10/18/2013

What causes ichthyosis vulgaris?

Ichthyosis vulgaris is caused by a genetic mutation. The mutated gene causes an abnormality in the normal lifecycle of skin. Whilst in most people, the growth, dying and shedding of skin happens unnoticed, people with ichthyosis reproduce new skin cells at a rate faster than they can shed it, or reproduce at a normal rate but the rate of shedding is too slow. Either way there is a build up of dry scaly skin. The mutated gene in ichthyosis vulgaris is found on chromosome 1q21 and is related to a protein called filaggrin.[2] To learn more about the protein filaggrin please click here.
Last updated: 10/18/2013

How might ichthyosis vulgaris be treated?

While there's no known cure for ichthyosis, there are treatments available to help manage the symptoms. Medications may include: [3]
  1. Creams and ointments containing alpha hydroxy acids such as lactic acid and glycolic acid that help to control scaling of the skin and increase skin moisture.
  2. Retinoids to reduce the production of skin cells.
  3. Antibiotics to treat secondary infections.
Last updated: 10/18/2013

References
  1. Ichthyosis vulgaris. MedlinePlus. May 2011; http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001451.htm. Accessed 1/24/2013.
  2. Ichthyosis. DermNet NZ. January 2013; http://www.dermnetnz.org/scaly/ichthyosis.html. Accessed 1/24/2013.
  3. Ichthyosis vulgaris. Mayo Clinic. October 2012; http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ichthyosis-vulgaris/DS00734/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs. Accessed 1/24/2013.