When it comes to skin conditions, most people are familiar with eczema, psoriasis, and dry skin. These common ailments plague many of us and there are a variety of treatment options and home remedies out there. But what about those conditions that are more unusual? Ichthyosis falls into the second camp. As a rare genetic skin disorder, ichthyosis isn’t as well-known, so here we are to shed some light! We’re breaking down the symptoms and types of ichthyosis and giving you a few tips for treatment. We’ll even share a couple home remedies to put you on the path to healing.
Causes and Symptoms
Ichthyosis is characterized by dry, scaly skin that’s either extremely thick or very thin. Often caused by a genetic mutation that’s passed from parent to child, this condition affects people of all races, genders, and ages. It usually first presents itself at birth or within the first year of life, and it sticks with you for life. Ichthyosis itself is extremely rare. In some cases, a child will show signs of it when neither of their parents have it. How?
Simple genetics has the answer. Parents may be carriers of the mutation even if they don’t have the condition. In some of the rarest cases, the mutation may occur spontaneously. Terrified? Not to worry. Understanding your skin and its quirks is the key to finding a treatment plan that works for you.
Like other skin conditions, ichthyosis is a family of disorders. It acts as an umbrella term, so in reality, there are several types of ichthyosis to know.
Harlequin Ichthyosis results in thickened patches of skin that can be found all over the entire body and are separated by deep cracks. These plates fall off over time, but often restrict movement of the body. If you’re dealing with harlequin ichthyosis, chances are you’re very young and you’re no stranger to intense moisturizing.
As the most common form, ichthyosis vulgaris impacts around 1 in 250 people. In mild cases, those with the condition experience some itching and slightly unusual-looking skin. More severe cases involve scales on all areas of the body (think Game of Thrones-level greyscale). Luckily, exfoliating with some frequency removes these scales and provides a little relief.
Babies who have lamellar ichthyosis are born with waxy-looking skin. Eventually, the waxy membrane is shed to reveal extensive scaling. As the affected person ages, scales are usually concentrated around joints.
While there is no cure for ichthyosis at this time, there are a lot of ways to treat it, ranging from self-care to dermatological intervention. If you choose to go the self-care route, we suggest exfoliating frequently, but gently, and invest in products that contain salicylic acid or urea.
Another treatment option is hydrotherapy, which calls for the use of water to relieve pain and skin irritation. This includes mineral baths and hot tubs.
The easiest way to treat a mild case at home is to embrace anti-inflammatories. Anti-inflammatories counteract swelling and can help reduce skin irritation. While you can take anti-inflammatories in pill form, we recommend incorporating a few anti-inflammatory ingredients into your diet. Our favorites include blueberries, ginger, dark chocolate, and green tea.
As is the key with most skin conditions, you can’t forget to moisturize. Applying petroleum jelly to the effective area locks in hydration and reduces dryness. It also softens the skin and allows for easy exfoliation.
The cold, dry air of winter can do a number on sensitive skin. Having a humidifier in your home this time of year adds moisture to the air and keeps your skin hydrated.
Whether you’re dealing with ichthyosis, eczema, psoriasis, or any other skin condition, we’re here to help. Our range of cleansers, creams, lotions, and other skin care favorites are suitable for every skin type. Sebamed’s mild formulation balances your skin’s pH, protecting you against environmental stressors. Check out our complete product lineup here.