Ichthyosis vulgaris


Ichthyosis vulgaris is frequently misidentified as ordinary dry and scaly skin, leading to potential underdiagnosis. If regular moisturizer application twice a day proves ineffective, a dermatologist can accurately diagnose ichthyosis vulgaris through a thorough examination of the skin, differentiating it from other skin disorders.

Prior to a doctor consultation:

  • Inquire about any skin conditions present in your blood relatives.
  • Record the onset date of the symptoms.
  • Compile a list of your existing medical or skin conditions, along with the medications, vitamins, and supplements you are currently using.

The doctor may conduct a biopsy, involving the removal of a small skin sample for microscopic examination. In cases involving children, a genetic test may also be ordered due to the hereditary nature of the disease.


While there is no cure for ichthyosis vulgaris, patients can seek relief from the dry, scaly skin. A doctor may recommend the following actions:

  • Increase the frequency of baths to more than once a day to hydrate the skin and soften the scales.
  • Before bathing, apply petroleum jelly or other thick, bland emollients to open sores or deep cracks. These ointments can alleviate the burning or stinging caused by water and help heal deep cracks. Adding sea salt to bathwater may also reduce sensations of burning, stinging, and itching.
  • Immediately after bathing, generously apply moisturizer to lock in the moisture absorbed during the bath. Heavy-duty moisturizers containing chemicals like lactic acid, salicylic acid, and urea can aid in proper skin shedding.
  • Gently rub scales with an abrasive sponge during bathing, taking advantage of softened scales to remove dead skin.
  • Follow the doctor’s prescription for oral and/or skin medications, including antibiotics to address skin infections. If skin infections are frequent, consider adding a small amount of bleach to bathwater. Bleach helps reduce bacterial presence on the skin (only under the guidance of a doctor).
  • Address the underlying disease or adjust the medication dosage that led to the development of acquired ichthyosis vulgaris.