Ichthyosis or Alligator Skin Disease

Ichthyosis is a genetic skin disorder characterized by extremely dry, fish-like scaly skin. Itis often accompanied by cracking, as well as a burning or stinging sensation.

It is also called alligator skin, and fishskin disease.

How is it Pronounced?

Eek-THEE-o-ses. Plural: ichthyoses (eek-THEE-o-sez). Ichthyosis is derived from the Greek word ichthys, meaning fish.

Symptoms of Ichthyosis

The symptoms of ichthyosis are:

  • Thickened, dry skin
  • Tightening and cracking of the skin
  • Many white fish-like scales
  • Burning and stinging sensation

The fish-like scales occur everywhere on the body and heaviest on the legs and arms. The symptoms of this condition is also aggravated by the dry weather during winter.

Fish-like scales on the back of the legs of ichthyosis patient.

During severe outbreaks, the skin become tight and may crack, therefore causing it to be susceptible to rashes and infections.

Causes of Ichthyosis

Itchthyosis is occurs when skin is not shed properly and there is a build-up of cell on the outermost skin layer, resulting in the appearance of being covered by white "fish scales".

Most sufferers of this condition have it since infancy or early childhood. Adult-onsetichthyosis is usually caused by:

  • side-effects of medications, such as cholesterol-lowering drugs
  • complications of diseases, such as AIDS, kidney failure, and cancer

How Can It Be Prevented?

Sufferers of ichthyosis can prevent outbreaks by:

  • Using heavy lubricants or moisturizers
  • Using moisturizing soap
  • Using alpha-hydroxy acids to help shed skin build-up

Treatment for Ichthyosis

There is no cure for ichthyosis. However, its symptoms can be treated by prescription alpha-hydroxy acid moisturizers.

See also:
Ichthyosis Pictures

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