Ichthyosis is a rare genetic skin disorder which causes the formation of dry, fish-like scales on the skin’s surface. The condition often begins in early childhood and is usually lifelong.

Ichthyosis fish-like scales on the leg

What causes ichthyosis to occur?

This skin condition is usually inherited from the parents, which is why you will typically see one or two family members exhibiting the symptoms. The parents may just be carrying the gene for the condition and not actually have the condition themselves.

The condition worsens in cold, dry weather, as sufferers typically have a defect in their skin which causes it to lose moisture. We do not know exactly what this defect is, but hopefully researchers will determine what it is.

Oftentimes, a more mild case might be misdiagnosed as mere dry skin, which is why it is important to see your dermatologist to make sure it is in fact ichthyosis.

Are there treatments for the scales?

If you do have ichthyosis, try not to take hot baths or showers, as they will dry out your skin. Use warm to cool water.

Soap should not be used on your skin because it irritates and dries it out. You should use the soap substitute Cetaphil lotion which is available from the pharmacy without a prescription.Ichthyosis fish-like scales on the arm

Do not rub the skin dry after you bathe.  Blot your skin gently then apply an Alpha hydroxyacid lotions.  Neostrata 15 AHA Body/Face Lotion is a very effective treatment for ichthyosis when applied to moist skin after bathing.

The doctor may prescribe an Alpha hydroxyacid lotion for your skin which will dissolve the scales and will increase the moisture content of your skin.

It is important to understand that there is currently no cure for ichthyosis. This is a life-long condition which can be managed or controlled. Living in a warm climate can certainly help if that is an option.