Ichthyosis vulgaris (IV) is the most common form of the inherited skin disorders, which is characterized by dry and scaly skin. Itchyosis vulgaris typically is absent at birth but usually starts developing at 3 months of life and in several cases by age of 5 years. The symptoms tends to improve with age, although may be even severe in old age. Ichthyosis vulgaris is not a life threatening disease.

The other form of ichtyosis is acquired type and is generally associated with underlying systemic disease like malignancy. This article will just focus on congenital Ichthyosis vulgaris.

Symptoms of Ichthyosis vulgaris

Skin of affected individual with Ichthyosis vulgaris may appear dry and scaly. The scales are usually white or grey, flaky or branny and commonly appear in extensor surface of arms and lower legs. Other affected areas might be the trunk, forehead and cheeks but these areas usually diminished with increase in age. The palm and soles are usually unaffected. Possible skin thickening and mild itching of the skin may be common.

Treatment of Ichthyosis vulgaris

Hereditary ichthyosis vulgaris usually improves with age but it often requires regular treatment. The main goal of treatment is to avoid low humidity environments, extreme temperature and to hydrate the skin and regular application of emollients to prevent evaporation. Many people do not require treatment during summer months as they improve during summer. Whereas is dry and cold symptoms seems to increase. There are several emollient bath oils and a variety of soap substitutes available in market so one can apply it. Emollients must be applied in regular interval, so morning and evening treatment may be easier as days are busy and may not be possible.

Keratolytic agents containing salicylic acid (1-5%), may be used in combination with emollients. There are many over the counter products containing Alpha-hydroxy acids like lactic, glycolic, malic, mandelic, citric, pyruvic, gluconic and tartaric acids. These products can be beneficial and are less irritant then salicylic acid. Urea creams (5-10%) can also be applied which will improve epidermal hydration. If the itching is the problem anti-itching and soothing lotions like calamine lotions can be applied and if severe over the counter cortisone cream can be used.

For more severe and unresponsive cases topical prescription retinoids like Tazarotene and Tretinoin in combination with the corticosteroids can be applied but retinoids are generally irritant. In case of any infection or cracks over the counter topical antibiotics ointments must applied immediately. As in most of the cases self improvement with personal care is seen with increase in age and it’s prognosis is very good, but if you suspect any complications consult your dermatologist immediately.