Ichthyosis: Ichthyosis is a rare genetic skin disease where the skin can be extremely dry and have patches of dark scales. Other symptoms include itchy skin, difficulty sweating, and thinning hair. Because of the tightness of the skin, it may be painful to move parts of the body. This condition can be present at birth or the symptoms can develop during the first four years of life. Some people develop a milder version only in the winter.
Possible complications: Splitting and cracking of the skin can lead to skin infections. Skin may build up over the eyes or ears leading to impaired eyesight and hearing.
Causes: Ichthyosis is most often caused by a genetic mutation inherited from one or both parents. Children who inherit a defective gene from just one parent have a milder form of the disease, while those who inherit two defective genes have a more severe form. Children often have normal skin at birth, but develop scaling and roughness during the first few years of life.
Treatment: The care of the child’s skin should be directed by a dermatologist. Antibiotics or antibiotic ointment may be needed if a skin infection develops. Alpha hydroxy acids, such as lactic acid and glycolic acid, may be used to help control scaling and increase skin moisture.
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