Ichthyosis is a relatively rare condition, and unlike some other skin conditions it is down to a genetic mutation. But how is it passed on?
While some cases of ichthyosis are ‘acquired’ rather than inherited, with the condition triggered by other diseases, treatments or medications, most common variants of ichthyosis fall into the ‘inherited’ type of the condition.
That means the condition is passed on from parents to child, via a mutated gene. This kind of inherited mutation is known as an autosomal dominant condition; it means that someone with the mutation has a 50% chance of passing the condition on to any children they might have.
This means that a single mutated gene would cause a mild case of ichthyosis vulgaris (the most common form of the condition), and mutations to both copies of the gene would produce a more severe case. So, if one parent has the mutation, then there's a 50% chance that their child would have ichthyosis vulgaris, but if both parents carry the mutated gene and pass them on to their children, those children are more likely to have a severe form of the condition.
The mutation happens to chromosome 1q21 and affects the way the skin reproduces and sheds cells; it’s linked to the protein filaggrin, which is also compromised in people with eczema and affects the elasticity of the skin.
A rarer form of acquired ichthyosis, recessive X-linked ichthyosis, occurs mostly in men and is a result of a mutation of the enzyme steroid sulfatase (STS), which affects the way the skin barrier is built.
For more detailed information about the way ichthyosis is inherited, see the pages on genetics on the First Skin Foundation website, an organisation set up to provide support for people affected by ichthyosis.
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.