Ichthyosis, pronounced Ick-thee-o-sis, is a term used to describe continual scaling of the skin. It comes from a Greek word “ichthys” which means fish although not all affected people have fish-like scales. It is quite rare and can be inherited (genetic or congenital) or develop later in life (acquired). The inherited forms of ichthyoses are usually evident at or soon after birth and they tend to persist throughout life although some types may improve slightly with age.
The scaling of ichthyosis affects most if not all areas of the skin and is fairly consistent over the years. This is in contrast to other skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis where scaling affects limited areas of the skin and changes its pattern frequently. However the more common, milder forms of ichthyosis may improve in summertime. Several of the rarer types of inherited ichthyosis also cause red inflamed skin and one form produces blistering of the skin.
For more information about some of the various types of ichthyosis click here.