Close look on ichthyosis vulgaris

Ichthyosis vulgaris is characterized as a skin disorder that causes dried out, dead skin cells to build-up as blotches on the skin surface. The condition is also called as “fish scale disease” since the dead skin accumulates in a similar pattern to the scales of fish.

In most cases, the skin condition is relatively mild and limited to a specific region in the body. Nevertheless, some cases can be severe and covers a large area of the body including the back, abdomen, arms and legs.

What are the causes?

Similar with other skin conditions, genetics has a role in the spread of ichthyosis vulgaris. The condition follows an autosomal dominant pattern in which only one parent needs to possess the mutated gene to pass it to a child. Remember that this is one of the prevalent types of hereditary skin conditions.

The skin disease might be present at birth or can manifest in the initial few days of the child’s life but it usually vanishes during early childhood. Some individuals might have no symptoms, but it can recur during adulthood in some.

Ichthyosis vulgaris

In most cases, the skin condition is relatively mild and limited to a specific region in the body.

Indications of ichthyosis vulgaris

The indications of the skin condition are usually worse during the winter season when the air is dryer and colder.

  • Itchy skin
  • Flaky scalp
  • Severe dryness of the skin
  • Thick skin
  • Scales that are gray, brown or white

The patches of dry skin develop on the lower legs and elbows, usually affecting the shins in dense, darkened segments. In severe cases, the condition can also develop profound, sore cracks on the soles of the palms of the hands or feet.


Even today, there is no cure for ichthyosis vulgaris, thus the key is to control the symptoms with the help of ongoing treatment.

The initial line of defense against dry, scaly skin is to apply thick moisturizers on the affected areas regularly. This might include the application of thick creams and ointments a number of times throughout the day. It is recommended to use those that contain urea or propylene glycol. One way to achieve the best results is to apply directly after bathing or swimming. In addition, using fragrance-free and dye-free soaps is also beneficial.

In some cases, the doctor might prescribe specialized ointments or creams to moisturize the skin, eliminate dead skin and control the itchiness and inflammation. These usually include topical treatments that contain the following:

  • Lactic acid or other alpha hydroxyl acids – these compounds are also present in anti-aging cosmetics that preserve the skin moisture and minimize the scaling.
  • Retinoids – these are substances derived from vitamin A that can be utilized on difficult cases to slow down the production of skin cells