Ichthyosis is a genetic condition which affects the way the topmost layer of skin is regenerated and shed. In this blog, we look at the best way to look after your skin if you’ve got ichthyosis, and how exfoliation plays a part in managing the symptoms.
What is ichthyosis?
Ichthyosis refers to a group of chronic, genetic skin conditions that are characterised by dry, tight, or scaly skin. It affects people of all ages and genders, but is usually diagnosed in babyhood. The condition involves a genetic defect in the way the outer layer of skin - the stratum corneum - works to make new and shed new cells, a process known as desquamation.
A build-up of rapidly generated cells, which are not shed at the rate they’re created, can leave the skin either thickened or too thin, as well as scaly, dry and uncomfortable.
Ichthyosis ranges in severity from very mild to extremely debilitating, and it’s the mild to moderate range we will be concentrating on here, as severe ichthyosis requires medical attention and advice to manage.
The aim in managing ichthyosis is to reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of the condition as much as possible, soften the built-up top layer, and protect it as far as possible from becoming damaged, cracked and sore. People with ichthyosis are also at increased risk of skin infections, due to a combination of bacteria between scales and a impaired skin barrier. As well as making people vulnerable to infection, an impaired skin barrier can lead to increased moisture loss, and very dry or dehydrated skin.
Bathing: a key strategy
Not only does bathing help keep skin clean and protect from infection, but it’s a very good way of helping skin complete the stalled process of desquamation that causes the problems associated with the condition. That’s because soaking in warm water helps loosen, soften and shed the excess cells that cause the scaliness. Bathing is a form of gentle and natural exfoliation in itself, but you can also actively scrub away - very gently - the excess cells to help the process along.
How to bathe for ichthyosis
- Soak for at least 30 mins, and up to an hour
- Soak in bath salts, bicarb or very diluted bleach to help the process of exfoliation
- Exfoliate gently with a softened, damp loofah or bath mitt. (If it hurts: stop!)
- After your bath, pat dry with a soft, clean towel
- Apply a rich, unperfumed emollient to your skin
Check out our blog What's The Best Lotion For Ichthyosis? for more detailed information about which emollient to choose, but we’d recommend Skin Salvation balm as a great choice for covering smaller areas of thickened, dry or scaly skin after exfoliation, or Balmonds Bath & Body Oil if you need to cover wide areas of skin very quickly after bathing. Our Daily Moisturising Cream with hemp and shea is another good choice for quick and easy application.
Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax
Bath & Body Oil
with lavender, hemp and olive
Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream
with shea butter and calendula
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.