Dr. Joel Schlessinger explains ichthyosis
Ichthyosis is a condition characterized by dry, scaly accumulations of skin cells. This condition is usually inherited and is most common in babies. Though it typically disappears during early childhood, adults may develop ichthyosis under certain circumstances. In this blog post, Joel Schlessinger MD explains the causes, symptoms and treatments for this skin condition.

Dr. Joel Schlessinger explains ichthyosis.

Ichthyosis slows your skin’s natural shedding process, causing an excessive buildup of protein in the upper layer of skin. Dry skin accumulates in patches on the surface and result in a scaly, rough texture. Ichthyosis is most often an inherited condition that typically appears at birth or during the first few years of life. In most cases, the condition disappears during early childhood but for some ichthyosis may return during adulthood. Ichthyosis that is not inherited from one or both of your parents may be associated with another condition such as an underactive thyroid, kidney disease, lymphoma or HIV infection.

The symptoms of ichthyosis include flaky, scaly skin that appears white, gray or brown. The condition may also cause deep, painful cracks in the skin that are worsened in cold or dry environments. Mild cases of ichthyosis are confined to specific areas such as the elbows, legs or shins. More severe cases cover larger areas of the body such as the back, abdomen, arms or legs.

There is no cure for ichthyosis, says Dr. Joel Schlessinger.

Ichthyosis has no cure but you can control the symptoms with continued treatment. Because the condition causes dry skin, it is important to moisturize the affected areas regularly, especially after bathing or swimming, to restore lost moisture. Choose a product formulated to provide long-lasting hydration such as EltaMD Intense Moisturizer. This hydrating cream nourishes while relieving the uncomfortable effects of ichthyosis. FixMySkin Healing Body Balm hydrates with shea butter and cocoa butter to improve dryness. This formula contains 1% hydrocortisone, a topical steroid that soothes inflammation and irritation, to reduce the irritating symptoms of ichthyosis.

To rid your skin of the dead cells that accumulate due to ichthyosis, exfoliate the affected areas with a product that contains alpha hydroxy acids or polyhydroxy acids. NeoStrata Problem Dry Skin Cream moisturizes dry areas while exfoliating with glycolic, lactic and mandelic acids. These ingredients gently sweep away debris to reduce cell accumulation and help achieve a smoother skin texture without causing irritation. NeoStrata Bionic Lotion employs lactobionic acid to remove dry, flaky skin without aggravating ichthyosis. It also contains nourishing vitamin E and soothing meadowfoam seed oil to improve skin health and comfort.

In addition to regularly moisturizing and exfoliating, there are further measures to help comfort your skin. Avoid products that are harsh or drying. If you must use chemicals or products that dry your skin, wear gloves or other protective clothing to reduce skin’s exposure to the irritant.  It may also be beneficial to use a humidifier, particularly if you live in a cold or dry climate. This will add moisture to the air around you to help your skin retain its natural hydration levels.

If the symptoms of ichthyosis are present, see a board-certified dermatologist.

If you expect a loved one may have ichthyosis, it is best to consult a board-certified dermatologist who can provide an individualized course of treatment. If the condition is not inherited, it may be symptomatic of an underactive thyroid, kidney disease, lymphoma or HIV infection. Your physician can pinpoint the cause of ichthyosis and help you proceed with the appropriate treatment.

Do you have questions about ichthyosis? Ask Dr. Schlessinger in the comment section.

Posted Friday, September 18th, 2015 at 3:20 pm
Filed Under Category: Uncategorized
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