Treating ichthyosis

There's no cure for ichthyosis, butmoisturising and exfoliating the skin daily can help prevent dryness, scaling and the build-up of skin cells.


Your skin specialist (dermatologist) will be able to prescribe or recommend suitable moisturising treatments (emollients) , which may be in the form of a cream, ointment, lotion or bath oil.

You should:

  • applyemollientsto wet skin to trap the moisture ideally a few minutes after having a bath or shower
  • gently rub wet skin with a pumice stone to remove some of the thickened skin
  • brush washed hair to remove scales from your scalp

Other useful exfoliating or moisturising products include lanolin creams, products containing urea,propylene glycol, lactic acid, and other alpha hydroxy acids.

Your dermatologist may also recommend peeling creams, such as salicylic acid,tohelp exfoliate and moisturise your skin. However, some people may find these products irritate their skin.

Antibiotics or antiseptics may be prescribed to treat skin infections.

Steroid treatments aren't effectivefor treating ichthyosis.


People with severe ichthyosis may need to spend several hours a day caring for their skin.

They may have the following problems:

  • overheating as a result of a reduced ability to sweat
  • limited movement dry skin can make it too painful to move certain parts of the body
  • skin infection after cracking and splitting of the skin
  • impaired hearing or eyesight if skin builds up over the ears or eyes

People with severe ichthyosis may be prescribed retinoid tablets (synthetic vitamin A), which reduce the growth of overactive scaly skin. They improve the skin's appearance, but don't improve the inflammation or redness.

Vitamin D supplements may also be prescribed.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018