Ichthyosis is one of the skin diseases, which becomes noticeable through increased dandruff formation. There are different forms of this disease, which differ from each other.
What is ichthyosis?
Depending on the type and severity, ichthyosis can cause very different symptoms, complaints and signs. Typical of the fish scale disease is a large, plate-like keratinization of the skin.
According to abbreviationfinder, the term ichthyosis hides a hereditary skin disease, which is accompanied by a strong, diffuse cornification disorder. This often affects the entire skin. Sometimes the disease is also called fish scale disease.
It exists in different forms. In exceptional cases, ichthyosis is part of a syndrome. Regardless of the form of the disease, this disease is not contagious. Which form of ichthyosis the person suffers from is defined according to the type of inheritance. Apart from that, the different forms show different signs and different fine-tissue phenomena on the skin.
Furthermore, transitional forms occasionally occur. The symptoms of the disease usually exist since birth. Sometimes, however, they only develop in the first few years of life. The different forms include ichthyosis vulgaris and congenital ichthyosis.
A defective carrier of the hereditary disposition is the cause for almost all types of ichthyosis. Since defects in the genes are generally hereditary, this skin disease is also a hereditary disease. The gene error leads to a disruption in the skin layers. There is no normal skin formation and desquamation process.
Normally, the skin is constantly renewed. The epidermis is made up of several layers. In its lowest layer, new cells are formed, which merge into the layers above. On the way there, the cells become horny and they die. Due to cell migration, the horny layer can renew itself about every four weeks.
If the skin is intact, new cell formation and desquamation are in a healthy balance. In the case of ichthyosis (ichthyosis), on the other hand, the natural shedding is impaired, so that visibly large flakes of skin develop.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Depending on the type and severity, ichthyosis can cause very different symptoms, complaints and signs. Typical of the fish scale disease is a large, plate-like keratinization of the skin. These skin changes, usually scaly, can be present from birth or develop in the first few weeks and months after birth.
Ichthyosis vulgaris usually breaks out three to twelve months after birth. This form can be recognized by the gray to greenish skin lesions that appear on the extensor sides of the arms and legs. Occasionally, the fine flakes of skin also appear on the scalp. The affected skin is dry and soft and peels off when touched. The skin color can be brownish to yellowish, occasionally there is bleeding under the cornification, which turns the skin in the affected area reddish.
Ichthyosis hands and feet are also typical of ichthyosis vulgaris. The skin lines take on a rough shape, which makes the skin appear wrinkled in some places. Symptoms of neurodermatitis also appear in a quarter of patients. The risk of asthma is also increased. If ichthyosis is treated early, the symptoms can be alleviated quickly. If left untreated, serious respiratory infections and other complications can develop.
Diagnosis & History
The diagnosis of ichthyosis is possible after recording the symptoms and a precise analysis of the appearance. The type of scaling, the characteristic pattern of infestation and the accompanying symptoms indicate the respective form of ichthyosis.
Depending on the suspected form of the disease, other specific diagnostic methods are then used. This is how the doctor analyzes the smallest tissue samples. Furthermore, a potential enzyme deficiency can be detected in the samples or a damaged genetic carrier can be confirmed by DNA analyses.
The course of this skin disease is always lengthy. How severe it is depends on the form of the disease. In very severe forms, a sick infant can die shortly after birth. With milder and moderate forms of ichthyosis, specific complications usually arise with advancing age, which are based on the dry and rigid skin of the affected person.
Ichtyosis causes severe discomfort and symptoms on the patient’s skin. However, the symptoms already appear in childhood, so that the diagnosis and treatment of ichtyosis can take place at an early stage. Lumps and scales usually form on the skin. Both men and women are equally affected by the disease.
The skin constantly sheds scales, which has a negative effect on the patient’s aesthetics. It is not uncommon for this to lead to a reduction in self-esteem and inferiority complexes. However, it is not uncommon for the symptoms of ichtyosis to recede in adulthood, so that there are no further complications or symptoms.
It is not possible to treat ichtyosis causally. The sufferer can use various creams and ointments to relieve the discomfort. In most cases, baths with various salts also help to limit the symptoms of ichtyosis. Life expectancy is not reduced by this disease. If there are psychological problems, they can be treated by a psychologist.
When should you go to the doctor?
If typical symptoms such as cornification of the skin or signs of neurodermatitis are noticed, a doctor should always be consulted. Ichthyosis can be treated well if it is detected early. People who notice the first warning signs should therefore consult a doctor as soon as possible. This is especially true if risk factors such as neurodermatitis or other skin diseases are present. Babies who show symptoms of ichthyosis shortly after birth must be treated immediately in a specialist clinic. In less severe cases, the family doctor should be involved.
The doctor can diagnose the condition and, if necessary, refer the patient to a dermatologist. A therapist can also be consulted if mental problems arise as a result of the external changes. However, the main focus is on treating the physical symptoms. During therapy, the skin must be examined regularly and the medication may need to be adjusted. For this reason, permanent medical monitoring is indicated even in the case of minor symptoms.
Treatment & Therapy
The aim of treating ichthyosis is to relieve the symptoms. The skin should become more supple through care measures and skin tears should be avoided or treated. Although no cure can be achieved in this way, the patient’s quality of life can be increased.
Local treatment with specific ointments is an important part of therapy. Also, for most forms of ichthyosis, the skin should be bathed, scrubbed, and lubricated twice a day. Creams containing urea are suitable for this. If the skin is severely affected but not inflamed, derivatives of vitamin A acid can also be used. However, these preparations have some strong side effects, so they should only be taken under strict consultation and supervision with a doctor.
Apart from local therapy, psychological care for the patient often proves to be useful. Many sufferers feel socially excluded as a result of ichthyosis (ichthyosis), so that these fears can be overcome with the help of therapy or a self-help group.
Outlook & Forecast
There is no cure for ichthyosis because it is a group of hereditary diseases. With good treatment, however, the symptoms can be greatly reduced. It should be noted that the skin requires lifelong intensive care. Despite the incurability of the disease, the prognosis for ichthyosis is generally good with appropriate treatment.
However, since it is not a uniform disease, it can also lead to a severe form in rare cases. In the case of so-called harlequin ichthyosis, patients often die shortly before or after birth from infections or respiratory diseases. Even with the milder forms of the disease, without therapy and skin care measures, there can be complications resulting from the dry and inelastic skin. Painful tears in the skin are possible. Sometimes sweating is also made more difficult by the constant formation of calluses. In extreme cases, this can lead to a circulatory collapse due to overheating of the body (hyperthermia), particularly in the case of high summer temperatures or physical exertion.
In some cases, neurodermatitis or asthma occur together with ichthyosis . Another consequence of the disease is often the psychological stress on the patient. This can lead to social exclusion and the development of fears, which often makes psychological care necessary.
Since ichthyosis is almost always a hereditary disease, there are no specific preventive measures. If this skin disease exists, it can be slowed down by taking certain measures. The natural remedies sun and salt water have proven to be beneficial for diseased skin. Furthermore, those affected should not come into contact with skin-damaging and degreasing substances. These can have a negative effect on the course of ichthyosis.
Follow-up care for ichthyosis usually focuses on alleviating the symptoms. The exact measures depend on the individual form of the disease. The focus is on intensive care of the affected skin. Contact with salt water and the sun has proven to have a healing effect on the clinical picture, which is why doctors often recommend their patients to stay by the sea.
However, increased sweat production is rather counterproductive. Those affected should also stay away from substances that are harmful to the skin. Degreasing substances can also have negative consequences. Due to the dehydration of the skin due to illness, it needs sufficient water and fat. Patients can choose from special gels and lotions for this purpose.
The doctor knows which products from the specialist trade are particularly effective here. During a consultation in the doctor’s office, those affected also learn what individual treatment with urea, salicylic acid or other active ingredients can look like. There are bath oils, soft brushes and sponges to remove calluses and dandruff from the skin.
The hard spots can be softened in a steam bath. The doctor treating you makes appropriate recommendations and can also provide information on changing your diet and avoiding stress. If the profession is responsible for the disease, those affected should consider a change.
You can do that yourself
Ichthyosis must always be treated depending on the individual symptoms. Since the skin is dried out, it needs water and fat, preferably in the form of special shower gels and lotions from specialist shops. In consultation with the doctor, ichthyosis can also be treated with salicylic acid, urea, lactic acid or vitamin A acid. Descaling the skin works best with table salt and bath oil. Steam baths soften the calluses and allow for gentle removal with a sponge or soft brush.
The advice of the doctor always applies to internal treatment. As a rule, the doctor will prescribe acitretin tablets, the effect of which is supported by changing the diet and avoiding stress.
In addition to these measures, the affected person should also take preventive measures. For example, a change of occupation usually makes sense, because the sensitive skin needs a suitable environment in order not to fall ill again. Furthermore, sweat production must be reduced, especially in the summer months. Cooling drinks and a first aid kit should always be at hand. However, should heat stroke or febrile seizures occur, it is best to call the emergency services immediately.