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:
Dry, flaking skin
Scaling of skin that gives skin the appearance of fish scales
Shedding of layers of the skin
Itching of skin
In severe cases, scarring and/or infection due to rubbing and scratching of scales or blisters
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.
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:
Creams, lotions, and ointments containing vitamin A
A large variety of over-the-counter, unscented moisturizers
For ichthyosis that causes scaling:
Solutions or creams with lactic or salicylic acid or urea may help.
In some cases, it may be advised to wrap affected areas with a plastic or cellophane bandage after applying a moisturizing agent. Such bandages should not be used on children.
In severe cases, medications are sometimes prescribed, including:
Retinoids to unclog pores and allow other topical medications to work better
Antibiotics to treat infection
Calcineurin inhibitors that are applied to the skin