Ichthyosis Vulgaris

What is Ichthyosis vulgaris?

Ichthyosis vulgaris, sometimes called fish scale disease or fish skin disease, is an inherited skin disorder in which dead skin cells accumulate in thick, dry rectangular scales on your skin’s surface.

What causes Ichthyosis vulgaris?

A mutation in a gene which allows skin cells to stay hydrated as they move towards the top layer of skin to be shed as well as the skin’s repair mechanism creating too many skin cells is the cause of this disease. This typically is inherited but can be acquired as well.

Who is at risk for Ichthyosis vulgaris?

1 in every 250 people are affected with ichthyosis vulgaris. Most commonly, Europeans are affected. This disease is typically worse in the winter.

What are the signs/symptoms of Ichthyosis vulgaris?

Ichthyosis vulgaris is located on the extensor surfaces (the skin on the opposite side of a joint). Patients will have very dry, scaly skin. The dry skin will appear like small scales in tiles. These scales can be white, dirty gray, or brown- people with darker skin will tend to have darker colored scales. In addition, the scalp may be flaky. In severe cases, there will be deep, painful crack in the palms and soles.

How is Ichthyosis vulgaris diagnosed?

This is a clinical diagnosis, however if there is any doubt a skin biopsy may be performed.

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