Like many chronic skin conditions, ichthyosis is characterised by very dry skin, but is it caused by a faulty immune system?
Although it has much in common with eczema and psoriasis, ichthyosis isn’t itself an autoimmune disease. Its most common variant - ichthyosis vulgaris - is caused by an inherited genetic disorder, and is a problem with the way the skin regenerates itself.
In ichthyosis, skin cells are constantly being renewed but aren’t shed at the same rate as they’re produced, leading to a build-up of hard cells at the top layer of skin.
The result? A dry, scaly layer on top of the skin, which can be prone to cracking, infection, and feel uncomfortably dry and tight for those affected. Most cases of ichthyosis are relatively mild, and though sufferers require a careful skincare regime, their health is not otherwise affected. In severe cases, the scaling can be debilitating, and require medical intervention.
There is a link to autoimmune diseases though: many people who have ichthyosis also suffer from eczema, which is a condition involving an overactive immune system response. What the link is, and why some people are affected by both conditions, is not clear.
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.