Last updated: June 21, 2022

Summarytoggle arrow icon

Ichthyoses are a heterogeneous group of dermatoses characterized by dry and scaly skin due to impaired keratinization. They are associated with various diseases, but may also be idiopathic. Ichthyosis vulgaris is the most common type, followed by X-linked ichthyosis. Treatment for both of these conditions mainly consists of skin moisturizers and possibly topical retinoids.

Ichthyosis vulgaristoggle arrow icon

  • Definition: autosomal dominant disorder of skin cornification caused by a mutation of filaggrin characterized by fine, light gray scales that primarily involve the limbs and trunk and spare the intertriginous regions
  • Epidemiology: most common type of hereditary ichthyosis
  • Etiology: autosomal dominant inheritance; associated with atopic diseases
  • Clinical features
    • Onset usually between 3 and 12 months of age
    • Lesions
      • Generalized fine, white scaling
      • Dry and coarse skin (xerosis): more common on extensor surfaces (skin folds are usually not affected)
      • Hyperlinearity of palms and soles (accentuated skin lines)
      • Symptoms generally worsen in winter and improve in summer
  • Diagnostics: clinical
  • Treatment: regular bathing, skin moisturizers (e.g., creams containing urea or panthenol), and exfoliating agents
  • Prognosis: : good prognosis; lesions usually disappear during adolescence


X-linked ichthyosistoggle arrow icon

  • Epidemiology: 1 in about every 6000 male births
  • Etiology: X-linked recessive trait (transmitted only to males) → inherited deficiency of the enzyme called steroid sulfatase
  • Clinical features
    • Generalized scaling, more prominent on extensor surfaces
    • Affected children are usually born via cesarian section (due to prolonged labor in pregnant mothers)
  • Diagnostics
  • Treatment
  • Prognosis
    • Mild chronic condition that does not improve with age (unlike ichthyosis vulgaris)
    • Responds well to symptomatic treatment


Referencestoggle arrow icon

  1. James WD, Berger T, Elston D. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. Elsevier Health Sciences ; 2015
  2. Recessive X-Linked Ichthyosis. Updated: September 1, 2015. Accessed: May 16, 2017.
  3. Ichthyosis Vulgaris. Updated: January 1, 2014. Accessed: May 16, 2017.

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