by Rick Alan
Ichthyosis is a dry skin condition. There are 2 types:
Inherited ichthyosis is caused by a genetic defect that is passed from parent to child or that occurs on its own.
Acquired ichthyosis is relatively rare, but may be caused by:
Factors that may increase the chances of ichthyosis:
Ichthyosis may be triggered by:
Ichthyosis can develop on any part of the body, but most often occurs on the legs, arms, or trunk. The symptoms can vary from mild to severe. In severe cases, the condition may be disfiguring. Symptoms may include:
Certain rare types of inherited ichthyosis are detected at birth and may be very serious, causing severe scaling on the skin all over the body.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Rarely, blood tests may be required.
Tests may be done if the diagnosis is unclear. This may include blood tests or a skin biopsy.
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Since there is no cure for ichthyosis, treatment consists of managing the symptoms. Most treatment is aimed at keeping the skin moist. In severe cases, medication may be prescribed. For the acquired form, treating the underlying condition may also help lessen the symptoms of the ichthyosis.
Many types of moisturizing ointments, lotions, and creams are used to relieve symptoms of ichthyosis. These include:
For ichthyosis that causes scaling:
In severe cases, medications are sometimes prescribed, including:
There are no current guidelines to prevent the development of ichthyosis. However, steps to prevent this condition from getting worse include:
Foundation for Ichthyosis & Related Skin Types
The National Registry for Ichthyosis and Related Disorders
Canadian Dermatology Association
Ichthyosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114921/Ichthyosis . Updated March 17, 2017. Accessed March 6, 2018.
Ichthyosis. DermNet NZ website. Available at: https://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/ichthyosis. Updated January 2015. Accessed March 6, 2018.
Newly diagnosed? Foundation for Ichthyosis & Related Skin Types website. Available at:
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Accessed March 6, 2018.
Last reviewed March 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Monica Zangwill, MD, MPH
Last Updated: 3/6/2018