WHAT IS ICHTHYOSIS?
Ichthyosis is the name given to a group of conditions in which the skin is dry and scaly. Many people have dry skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis which tend to be patchy and come and go, but ichthyosis affects the whole body and the dry scaly skin is always there.
Ichthyosis is generally an inherited condition which is usually there at birth. Ichthyosis happens when the cells of the skin don’t act normally, either growing too quickly or piling up on the surface, or by not falling off (shedding) when they have become old.
Types of ichthyosis
There are many different types of ichthyosis. The most common type of ichthyosis is called ichthyosis vulgaris (IV) and usually occurs in the first year or two of life. This is usually mild, with fine scaling on the body, arms, legs and palms. Ichthyosis vulgaris affects between 1 in 100 to 1 in 250 people in the UK.
Caring for skin with ichthyosis
There is no cure for ichthyosis at present; however, treatment with emollients can help to improve the condition of the skin.
The main aim of treatment is to improve the condition of the skin, making it less dry and scaly, and to relieve discomfort. Intensive use of emollients can help achieve this (applied at least twice a day to the entire body). Topical antibiotics, antiseptics and other treatments which reduce skin scaling may also be prescribed by a doctor or nurse.
The Ichthyosis Support Group (ISG) is a charity organisation offering information and support to the sufferers and families affected by ichthyosis.
Visit http://www.ichthyosis.org.uk/ for further information.