A disease affecting the skin (or Integumentary) system
What is Ichthyosis vulgaris?
Ichthyosis vulgaris is a disease that slows your skins natural shedding process. This causes skin flakes to build up on the outer layer of your skin. Usually, your skin sheds on it's own, up to 30,000 skin flakes per minute. This disease also causes extreme dryness and cracking of the skin, making it look like you have fish scales. This disease is also known as "Fish Skin Disease".
How does the Integumentary system work usually?
The skin system is the largest system in the body, if it was laid out flat it would be about 2 square yards and weigh 9 pounds. Skin protects everything in your body, and keeps us from overheating with sweat glands. Skin has three layers, epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous. The epidermis has three layers of cells; melanocytes, keratinocytes, and Langerhans. Melanocytes produce melanin which gives skin its color. Everyone has the same amount of melanocytes but darker skinned people produce more melanin. Keratinocytes produce keratin which creates a barrier on the skin. Langerhans protect the body from infection.
Who Gets Ichthyosis vulgaris?
Ichthyosis vulgaris is an inherited disease. It is inherited in an "autosomal dominant pattern" this means that only one of your parents has to have "the abnormal gene" for you to get it also. This does not seem to be gender or ethnicity specific, though the scales may be darker if your skin is darker.
How is it diagnosed?
Usually doctors only have to look at your skin to diagnose you, but sometimes they will ask about your family history or do a skin biopsy. A skin biopsy is when a doctor takes a skin sample and sends it off to a lab for testing, usually this is used for diagnosis.
What are the symptoms of Ichthyosis vulgaris?
Symptoms vary in severity and are different for everyone. Some symptoms include:
- Dry skin with fish-like scales
- Deep painful cracks in the skin
- White or brown scales (darker if you have darker skin)
- Especially thick scales on your shins
How is Ichthyosis Vulgaris treated?
Since there is no cure, treatments focus on controlling symptoms. Doctors will prescribe medicated lotions, creams, ointments and soaps. Symptoms worsen in cold dry weather but lessen and may even clear up completely in warm humid climates.
Note, This video is a commercial for MicroSilk, also this girl has a different form of Ichthyosis than the one I studied
MicroSilk® for Ichthyosis, Mary Elizabeth's Story