Ichthyosis can be an uncomfortable and distressing condition, but will it ever go away?
The short answer, unfortunately, is no, most types of ichthyosis cannot be cured, so won’t just go away.
The longer answer - and the better news - is that while it won’t ever go away, mild cases of ichthyosis vulgaris (the most common form of the condition) can be managed well with appropriate care, and can improve with both age and climate.
Let’s rewind and look at what causes ichthyosis, so we can understand what’s going on.
Most variants of the condition are inherited, and are a result of a genetic mutation passed down from someone’s parents. The genetic mutation will be with those affected their whole life, and means that their skin makes cells faster than it can shed them, so that they’re left with a hardened, scaly top layer of skin. In mild cases, this can just look like dry flaky skin, but in more severe occurrences, the epidermis can be significantly scaly, cracked and tight. The hard, thickened skin can make movement difficult, and leave sufferers vulnerable to infection.
People with this kind of severe and debilitating ichthyosis may well need intensive topical treatments from their doctors, to help them cope with the problems caused by the thickened skin.
However, mild cases of inherited ichthyosis vulgaris are usually managed well with emollients, which soften and hydrate the tough outer layer of skin. Although a tendency towards dry, scaly skin is unlikely to ever go away completely, people with ichthyosis can find that their skin improves with age, and also gets better at certain times of year or in certain environments. Warmer, more humid weather is generally better for ichthyosis than dry, cold weather, so there’ll be times when the condition is much less difficult to manage and might even not trouble sufferers too much at all.
Some variants of the condition aren’t inherited, but are the result of a disease or a medication; these are known as ‘acquired’ types of ichthyosis. If whatever caused it - whether a particular drug or a disease that can be cured - goes away, the condition should improve and may even disappear entirely.
What products do we recommend for people with ichthyosis?
Although the condition can’t be cured, mild cases can generally be managed with a careful skincare routine. Check with your doctor if you need more intensive treatment, but because ichthyosis is a condition characterised by dry skin, sufferers are usually encouraged to use rich emollients to soften any scaliness and keep skin supple and well-hydrated. Our moisturisers are made to be as gentle and natural as possible, so that skin is cared for rather than irritated.
For really dry, rough or cracked skin:
Skin Salvation balm with hemp, beeswax & calendula (from £7.99 for 30ml)
For general daily maintenance:
Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream with shea butter, hemp & olive (from £13.99 for 100ml)
Balmonds Bath & Body Oil with hemp, lavender & chamomile (£12.99 for 200ml)
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.