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Ichthyosis vulgaris is an inherited skin disorder in which dead skin cells accumulate in thick, dry scales on your skin's surface.The scales of ichthyosis vulgaris, sometimes called fish scale disease or fish skin disease, can be present at birth, but usually first appear during early childhood. Sometimes, mild cases of ichthyosis vulgaris go undiagnosed because they're mistaken for extremely dry skin.

Most cases of ichthyosis vulgaris are mild, but some are severe. Sometimes other skin diseases, such as the allergic skin condition eczema, are associated with ichthyosis vulgaris.There are various types of ichthyosis , but Ichthyosis vulgaris is the most common and mild form. It is characterised by mild scaling and dryness of skin.


Ichthyosis vulgaris slows skin's natural shedding process. This causes chronic, excessive buildup of the protein in the upper layer of the skin (keratin).Symptoms include :

  • Dry, scaly skin
  • Tile-like, small scales
  • Scales colored white, dirty gray or brown — with darker-colored scales typically on darker skin
  • Flaky scalp
  • Deep, painful cracks in skin
  • Itchy skin
  • Polygon-shaped scales on the skin
  • Thickened skin

The scales usually appear on elbows and lower legs and may be especially thick and dark over shins. Most cases of ichthyosis vulgaris are mild, but some can be severe. The severity of symptoms may vary widely among family members who have the condition.Symptoms usually worsen or are more pronounced in cold, dry environments and tend to improve or even resolve in warm, humid environments.


There are various types of ichthyosis. These are :

  1. Ichthyosis vulgaris : The most common and mild form of ichthyosis is ichthyosis vulgaris. It is characterised by mild scaling and dryness of skin.
  2. X-linked ichthyosis: This type of ichthyosis arises due to deficiency of steroid sulfatase enzyme and most commonly affects men. The scaliness is more prominent on the neck, trunk and lower limbs in this type.
  3. Harlequin-type ichthyosis : This is an extremely rare, but severe type of ichthyosis that needs intensive care at birth. Babies born with Harlequin-type ichthyosis have thick plates of skin separated with deep cracks. The deep cracks in the skin put these babies at risk of fatal infections.
  4. Lamellar ichthyosis : A rare skin disorder in which the babies are born with a shiny, waxy outer layer of skin. During the first few weeks, this layer dries and peels off revealing the scaliness on the skin.
  5. Ichthyosis hystrix : This is characterised by intense hyperkeratosis (thickening of the outermost layer of skin epidermis) and appears like spiny scales.


  • Ichthyosis vulgaris is commonly caused by a genetic mutation that's inherited from one or both parents. Children who inherit a defective gene from just one parent have a milder form of the disease. 
  • Those who inherit two defective genes have a more severe form of ichthyosis vulgaris. Children with the inherited form of the disorder usually have normal skin at birth, but develop scaling and roughness during the first few years of life.
  • If genetic abnormalities aren't responsible for ichthyosis, it's referred to as acquired ichthyosis. It's usually associated with other diseases, such as cancer, thyroid disease or HIV/AIDS.
  • Ichthyosis vulgaris may be present at birth or appear in the first few years of a child’s life. It typically disappears during early childhood. Some people may never have symptoms again. But for others, it can return during adulthood.
  • As with many other skin conditions, genetics play a role in the transmission of ichthyosis vulgaris. The condition follows an autosomal dominant pattern. This means that only one parent needs to possess the mutated gene in order to pass it onto his or her child. It’s one of the most common of all inherited skin disorders.
  • In rare cases, adults can develop ichthyosis vulgaris even if they don’t carry the defective gene. Though this is rare, it’s most often associated with other conditions, including cancer, kidney failure, or thyroid disease. It can also be associated with taking certain types of medications.
  • Ichthyosis vulgaris may also occur along with other skin disorders, such as atopic dermatitis or keratosis pilaris. Atopic dermatitis, more commonly known as severe eczema, is known for causing extremely itchy skin rashes.
  • The affected skin may also be thick and covered in scales. The white or red skin bumps caused by keratosis pilaris can look similar to acne, but they usually appear on the arms, thighs, or buttocks. This condition can also cause rough patches of skin.


Some people with ichthyosis may experience:

  • Overheating. In rare cases, the skin thickness and scales of ichthyosis can interfere with sweating. This can inhibit cooling. In some people, excess sweating (hyperhidrosis) can occur.
  • Secondary infection. Skin splitting and cracking may lead to infections.


  • A doctor specializing in skin disorders, called a dermatologist, can typically diagnose ichthyosis vulgaris by sight.
  • Doctor will ask about any family history of skin diseases, the age first experienced symptoms, and whether have any other skin disorders.
  • Doctor will also record where the patches of dry skin appear. This will help your doctor track the effectiveness of treatment.
  • Doctor may also perform other tests, such as a blood test or skin biopsy. This will rule out other skin conditions, such as psoriasis, that cause similar symptoms. A skin biopsy involves removing a small section of the affected skin for examination under a microscope.


Homoeopathic remedies are found to be very effective for this condition . Some of the effective remedies are given below-


    Arsenic iodatum is one of the top remedies for Ichthyosis.There is  marked exfoliation of large scales from the skin that leave behind a raw surface. The  skin is scaly with much itching .


    Hydrocotyle asiatica is another effective medicine for Ichthyosis.There is great thickening of epidermal layer and exfoliation of scales of the skin. Circular spots on the skin  with scaly edges.Another prescribing symptom is  intolerable itching ,especially  of soles


    Petroleum is prescribed  where the skin is rough, dry and thick, with the presence of cracks. The skin is very sensitive .

  4. SEPIA

    Sepia is very effective for ichthyosis . Sepia is prescribed for ichthyosis with offensive odour of skin. Severe itching which is not relieved by scratching. Worse in bends of elbows and knees


    Kali Sulph is the best Homoeopathic medicine  for icthyosis with dry, flaky skin with prominent, yellow scales.


    Platanus occidentalis is prescribed for X linked ichthyosis with corneal opacity and cataract .


    Natrum carb. is prescribed for Lamellar ichthyosis with photophobia


    Clematis erecta is prescribed when red, brown , scaly, scabby skin occurs. There is intense itching ,  worse washing in cold water


    Zincum metallicum is effective for ichthyosis with corneal dystrophy.