WARNING: The Embarrassing Bodies website contains images of an explicit medical nature and nudity in a medical context.

Conditions

Ichthyosis

Ichthymosis

Ichthyosis is a term used to describe continual scaling of the skin. In fact, the name of this condition is derived from the ancient Greek word “ichthys”, which means fish, although not all sufferers have fish-like scales. There are many types of this rare condition, which can be inherited (genetic or congenital) or develop later in life. However, Ichthyosis vulgaris is the commonest form of inherited Ichthyosis, which affects one in every 250 people. This is usually quite mild and develops in early childhood with fine, light grey scales and roughness on the arms and legs It is sometimes associated with atopic or childhood allergic eczema, which may cause an increased wrinkling of the palms and soles. Regular application of moisturisers or emollients can alleviate the condition, which may improve in adulthood (although the condition can still be passed down to a sufferers children). Some of the rarer and more severe forms of the condition, such as Harlequin Ichthyosis, can require intensive medical and nursing care.

Harlequin Ichthyosis is a severe genetic skin condition that affects people from birth. It is passed on through the parents but only one in a million people suffer from it, making this type of Ichthyosis extremely rare. It is caused when the skin cannot shed itself fast enough and skin cells reproduce too quickly. A newborn baby suffering from the disease will have skin that forms hard, diamond-shaped plates divided by deep cracks. It looks similar to the diamond-patterned costume that jesters wear in pantomime, known as the harlequin, which is where the condition gets its name. These plates stretch the skin, restricting the baby’s movement, causing lips and eyelids to be turned inside out and the ears to be hidden. Sufferers usually develop extremely poor eyesight and bad hearing as a result of the excess skin. One of the main functions of the skin is to keep liquids in and infections out, so without skin the baby can be badly affected by dehydration, infection or extreme temperatures. The skin is also very tight, which can make breathing difficult for the child. Previously, Harlequin Ichthyosis was always fatal but care is improving. There is no cure for the condition but skin medication and constant attention, such as creams and scrubbing, allows people to have fulfilling and productive lives.

Comments and Questions

The EB doctors have been looking at your comments and have answered some of the common questions below. Remember that it is always best to check with a health professional if you have any concerns about your health.

Comments & Questions are now archived, but if you see anything on the site that worries you, please report it and one of our moderators will look at it as soon as possible.
Please note: Unfortunately Channel 4 cannot respond to individual inquiries. If you have any concerns, you can check out NHS Choices, but ultimately it is always best to check with a health professional.

Hello there my name is Rob I live in Australia and have been suffering with what I know now to be ikthiosis what two creams does the lady use before wrapping her legs with cellophane. Regards Rob





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Hello Doctor, Wish you well. I just realised that i have ichthyosis condition. I am male ,50 years year! I have carrying these skin condition all my life. I alway thought it was my dry skin problem until i have been told it is a ichthyosis. I am using Eucerin cream content 10% urea, it help but not quite.. Can you please let me know which cream that the lady used on the your show and wrapped with the cling flim. Many thanks Regards





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

I am 66. two of my three younger brothers have ichthyosis as well as me. My skin would just about clear up in summer when I was young.But worse in winter. only showing a little bit on legs. In recent years it has became worse. Now front and back of legs and on arms very bad. Bought red sheets last year- big mistake. Sheets every morning look like I have a bad case of dandruff. HaHa!! gotta laugh Oats in sock for bath helps itch.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Hi I'm 15 years old , I feel really Insecure about Ichthyosis. I see a doctor at children's hospital and take pills.but I can't wear dresses or go swimming which I love without people staring at me. I have dry skin redness on my knees , elbows and hands. My skin flakes off , I tried Vaseline at night covered with socks. But it helped only a bit please recommend me something.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

I'm 30 and have lived with this my whole life. It definitely is better in the summer. I have it only on my legs. It's really bad on the back of my ankles. Lately, I've been using baby oil RIGHT after I get out of the shower. No drying off the legs or just patting them ever so slightly. The baby oil has shown a dramatic effect. I highly recommend giving this a try. It's only been a few applications and it's working perfectly. I am guessing in another week it will be almost as if I didn't have it at all. I'll probably continue applying every time.

Hello, Im a 27 year old male and I have suffered from ichyosis vulgaris (fish scale disese). Although I have never been officially diagnosed (too embarassed) I think my condition is severe. My shins are the worse, but my legs, butt, and back are also severe. The only two arts not affected are my penis and face. For my legs, i cover them in petroleum jelly then wrap plastic wrap on for the night. I bath with uncenteted baby oil. For my hands and feet i use vaseline and sleep with socks. I have never met anyone with the same condition as myself. Sean





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Try SR lotion, it has worked for me and many other people on here, it really is great stuff, I also have vulgaris and my skin now looks normal, I swear people would not know that I had anything wrong with my skin. I can go swimming without fear of being looked at, I can wear shorts and t shirt, it really has changed my life. Although it looks expensive, I would say it is the best purchase I have ever made and it actually works. I have tried everything and spent so much money on stuff that doesn't work. All I would say though is you need to use it exactly as the instructions say. Good luck!

I know the feeling having a son with the same condition. I have bought several lubricating creams for him, but none of those seems to work. I have researched online and I have seen a lot of people recommending SR Lotion. I can feel there's truth to it. After seven days, the skin start flaking and we're waiting for the scaly skin to finally shed this time.

I have suffered from Ichthyosis for over 40 years & as a result have never been able to have a close relationship with anyone. I have been using Emulysifing Ointment & Vitamin Cream , They help a little but not much in the winter. I find my skin is bettter when we have very humid weather because I tend to sweat more. Personally I am fed up living with this condition as I cannot wear anything light or go out in the summer sun with just a pair of shorts on.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Hi in the past month I started to have a very hiching skin all over my face and I loose so much skin every time I scratch any other with similar problem.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your answer.


Please don't swear or be rude in your answers, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting answers. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

Questions submitted to the site will be answered by other site users, not by medical professionals, so if you have a medical concern, please book an appointment with your GP.

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Hi I'm 40 years old and I have Ichthyosis since I was born. I have it on my legs and my arms.I have three daughters and i passed it all to them. Sometimes its embarrassing especially to my kids because people were we live are ignorant and they thought it is communicable. They seldom have friends I'm using cetaphil lotion and lacticare with 1% hydrocortizone and oilatum soap it works really well but it's expensive in our country. Is there anything I can use that are not expensive. We live in the Philippines by the way.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Hello. I'm from Philippines too. I would like to meet someone who has this as I'm feeling down and no one understand it. I'm going 28 and it is getting worse. It is depressing and it makes me lonely. sorry for the drama. I just want to talk to someone aside from expensive dermatologists that only knew are to prescribed creams and steroids.

Hello, I have a baby with ichthyosis. His quality of life is very poor due to this illness. Please help. I am after a doctors name who can treat this condition. As a parent I am desperate to help my child, please consider my email. Thank you





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Good Morning Dr Christian Jessen My name is Francisco, i am from Canary Islands in Spain, i am sending you this message because i need your help. I have icthyosis since i was born and I suffered burns in 45% of my body when i was 6 years old, i have seen Embarrassing Bodies, the episode with black woman suffering icthyosis, please could you tell me the name and phone number of the dermatologist, I am willing to fly to England, please i really need your help, i would be very gratefull. Than you very much.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines


Important Notice

The information provided on this website (including any NHS Choices medical information) is for use as information or for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. We do not warrant that any information included within this site will meet your health or medical requirements. This Embarrassing Bodies site does not provide any medical or diagnostic services so you should always check with a health professional if you have any concerns about your health.


If you want to embed our videos in your site, read our embedding T&Cs here


More Information

  1. Breasts

    In Episodes - In this second of four specials, the Embarrassing Illnesses doctors…

  2. Men

    In Episodes - The EI Docs go in search of the most elusive creature in the doctor…

  3. Vaginas

    In Episodes - The EI team roll into Norwich to setup a clinic in one of the count…

  4. Boys, Boys, Boys

    In Episodes - Episode 3 of Embarrassing Teenage Bodies takes a closer look at bin…

  5. Teens Below the Belt

    In Episodes - Episode 4 of Embarrassing Teenage Bodies tackles conditions includi…

  6. Am I Normal?

    In Episodes - Episode 2 of Embarrassing Teenage Bodies looks at conditions includ…

  7. Quick Health Advice: Warts and Verrucas

    In Videos - Dr McKenna looks at the causes of warts and verrucas and some of th…

  8. Consultation: Anal Warts

    In Videos - Dr Dawn Harper diagnoses a patient with anal warts

  9. Doctor Responses: Genital Warts

    In Videos - Dr Christian explains where genital warts come from, what can be do…

  10. Quick Health Advice: Athlete's Foot

    In Videos - Dr Harper gives out some advice on how to avoid getting the particu…

  11. Body Check: Feet

    In Videos - Dr Christian talks about common foot conditions and the importance…

  12. Episode 1 - Pelvic Floor

    In Episodes - This week’s episode includes a woman who thinks she has a gia…

  13. Consultation: Ichthyosis

    In Videos - Dr Harper treats a women for the skin condition Ichthyosis, with am…

  14. Consultation: Verrucas

    In Videos - Dr McKenna examines two patients with severe outbreaks of verrucas

  15. Episode 5

    In Episodes - Episode 5 featured conditions as diverse as Gynaecomastia (that's m…


Am I Normal?

Share, explore, vote, watch… Am I Normal? is a bold new Channel 4 project that will redefine what you think of as ‘normal’.

Visit Am I Normal? >