What is Ichthyosis?

The skin is the largest organ of the human body. Many people tend to forget or don't realise this fact. If the skin fails to function properly, then this can result in various other health problems.

Ichthyosis - pronounced ICK-THEE-YOSIS - is a very rare genetic skin disorder distinguished by scaling of the skin. Ichthyosis in most cases covers the whole body and most types of the condition are present at birth. There are many different types of Ichthyosis which vary in severity, here are just some of the different types:

Basic facts/characteristics of Ichthyosis include:

* Distingushed by red, scaly, fragile skin and in some cases blisters.

* Ichthyosis can cause high metabolism due to a lack of a specific protein in the skin.

* Inability to regulate body temperature, thus not able to sweat properly.

* The skin isn't waterproof due to the lack of a specific protein.

* The skin cracks, breaks and tears very easily leaving it vulnerable to infection. Many describe the skin of Ichthyosis as resembling tissue paper. The skin can also be very tight.

* Ichthyosis can cause other health implications dependant on type of Ichthyosis and severity, such as sight loss due to ectropian and hearing problems due to build up of skin in ears.

* The skin on the joints is very thick which restricts mobility.

* Ichthyosis can have a psychological and emotional impact on sufferers and families of sufferers. Sufferers are subject to bullying, ridicule, stares and discrimination.

* Ichthyosis is a serious, incurable, lifelong condition, and in some cases life threatening

* Ichthyosis is genetic thus NOT contageous.

* There is no cure for Ichthyosis only treatments. These treatments consist of labourious routines of bathing regularly and frequently applying creams, lotions etc and in some cases dressings and bandages.

* Due to the excessive amount of creams required for the treatment of Ichthyosis, extra clothing and laundry is needed as the creams etc cling to the clothing and can be very difficult to wash out. Also washing machines are often needed to be replaced due to wear and tear from the constant laundry that needs to be done, and the need for replacing machines is required as the creams etc that are on the clothing can damage the rubber seal on the door of the machine.

* The skin of an Ichthyosis sufferer sheds rapidly. What a person with 'ordinary' skin sheds in 2 weeks, those with Ichthyosis will shed the equivalent of in just one night.

** Further and more in-depth information can be found by following the links below or following the links on the links page.

Dermnet.nz (*this link also includes photographs of Ichthyosis*)

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