4 Things Parents Need To Know About Ichthyosis

There are lots of skin conditions that can affect children, but some of them are more serious than others. While some skin conditions are just uncomfortable or embarrassing, others have a serious effect on a child's quality of life. Ichthyosis falls into the latter category. Here are four things you need to know about your child's condition.   

What is ichthyosis?

Ichthyosis is a skin condition that slows the natural shedding process of your child's skin. This allows dead skin and excess protein to accumulate instead of being shed continuously. Children with ichthyosis have very dry skin that looks scaly, like a fish. The scales are small and can range from white to brown. Deep cracks can also form in the skin; understandably, these are very painful.

Is it contagious?

People who encounter your child may ask if the condition is contagious. Ichthyosis is a genetic disease, which means that it's caused by mutations in a person's genes, and can't be passed on through skin-to-skin contact or close proximity to a person with the condition. The only way to get ichthyosis is to be born with the genetic mutation that causes it.

How is it treated?

There is no cure for this condition, but dermatologists can help ease the symptoms. Hydrating skin creams and exfoliating scrubs are helpful for people with ichthyosis. There are many products available without a prescription, but your child may also be prescribed a lotion.

What can parents do to help?

There's a lot that you can do to make your child more comfortable. Both air conditioning and heating can dry out the skin, so try to avoid using either except on the very hottest or coldest days. The rest of the time, open the windows, use fans, and use humidifiers to control the climate inside your house.

Synthetic fibers can be irritating to children with ichthyosis, so buy your child clothes that are made of natural fibers like cotton or wool. Natural fibers allow moisture to wick away from the skin while synthetic fibers can trap the moisture against the skin.

Baths are also helpful, so encourage your child to take baths instead of showers. Add a small amount of vinegar or bleach to the bath water to help prevent bacterial infections and body odor. After the bath, help your child exfoliate their skin with a pumice stone.

Ichthyosis can have a major effect on your child's quality of life. Talk to a dermatologist (such as Stephen A Switlyk MD) to find a treatment that will help your child live a normal life.