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Ichthyosis - Memphis Dermatologist

George Woodbury MD 3/20/2023

Ichthyosis is a type of genetically sensitive skin condition that tends to run in certain families where in the skin of the arms, the legs, the body, and/or the face tends to get really dry and shed in large flakes like fish scales. Let’s take a look at new management strategies for Ichthyosis, my perspective being that of a Memphis Dermatologist, practicing in Dermatology Cordova TN at Rheumatology and Dermatology Associates ( 1-901-753-0168) since 1993.


First, Ichthyosis treatment tends apply for patients also needing Atopic Dermatitis treatment or Eczema treatment, because many patients with Ichthyosis also have Atopic Dermatitis or Eczema. These conditions tend to present with an aggravating itchy rash more common with the change of seasons.

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Eczema often develops on the arms and legs, but also the face, neck, or body, affecting 3% of the population. It runs in families along with asthma, hay fever, and food allergies, and seems to be more common among Asian-Americans and African-Americans, though it affects all racial groups.

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Years ago, we used to think that food allergies were the trigger. But Dermatologic research points to a combination of genetic factors – and low skin oil level. So the root cause of both Ichthyosis and Atopic Dermatitis is probably genetic, meaning that these conditions are inherited.


Sometimes Skin Allergy to certain fragrances, dyes, preservatives, or components within latex or certain metals can cause attacks of itching in patients with Ichthyosis and Eczema. As a member of the American Contact Dermatitis Society, at Rheumatology and Dermatology I offer extended Allergy Patch Testing to help search for trigger chemicals. This type of Skin Allergy Testing can lead to a “cure” from the itching of Eczema, by identifying trigger factors, which could be a metal like nickel, or a preservative, fragrance, dye, or component of latex.

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In 2023, the good news is that Dermatologists have a growing arsenal of medications to help patients with Ichthyosis, to help to put the itching and dryness to rest. We have the topical steroids, of which there are over 30 available, most of which are by prescription only. Topical steroids must be used carefully, to minimize thinning of the skin, and stretch marks. Dermatologists also sometimes even use oral agents like prednisone or injectable steroids like methylprednisolone to help flares of Ichthyosis, which can at times lead to a “Dry Skin Crisis.”


 Many of us Dermatologists also consider steroid-free prescription and nonprescription Alpha-Hydroxy Acid medications (also called AHA medications), for patients with Ichthyosis: 

  • Lactic Acid is an AHA that was originally discovered because spoiled milk was found to help dry skin. It’s the active chemical ingredient to alleviate skin dryness, and it’s in spoiled milk. Lactic Acid is available as a prescription –Laclotion® – and also as over-the-counter Amlactin®.

  • In 2016, I became President of Big River Silk Skincare Inc., to manufacture and distribute three lines of helpful lubricating agents (moisturizers) containing an Alpha-Hydroxy chemical (AHA) called Glycolic Acid: GLYCOSHEA® Hand&Body Cream/Standard Strength (1 oz: $19.95; 2 oz: $29.95; 8 oz: $89.95); GLYCOSHEA® Hand&Body Cream/High Strength (1 oz: $29.95; 2 oz: $44.95; 8 oz: $139.95); and GLYCOSHEA® Facial&Neck Cream (1 oz: $39.95/2 oz; $59.95; 8 oz: $179.95). GLYCOSHEA is helpful in both moisturizing the skin and decreasing the appearance of fine lines in the skin, promoting skin smoothness, making it into an Anti-Wrinkle Cream.

  • Big River Silk also manufactures a special gentle moisturizer for babies, senior, and those with especially sensitive skin, a hypoallergic moisturizer: (1 oz: $12.95; 2 oz: $18.95; 8 oz: $39.94).

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  • Future directions: Pyruvic Acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid present in many compounded creams available through Dermatologists – originally discovered in grapes.

  • Mandelic Acid is an AHA that was originally discovered in sweet almonds. Much research is being done around this AHA chemical.


So if you or family members are suffering from itching and rash, consider getting your condition properly diagnosed. My own Cordova Dermatology practice since 1993 has been with Rheumatology and Dermatology Associates, 8143 Walnut Grove Road, Cordova TN, a suburb of Memphis TN. Or you can find a Dermatologist closer to you by going to the American Academy of Dermatology web site, to the “Find a Dermatologist” tab: just plug in your zip code, and you’ll get a list of Board-certified Dermatologists closer to you.

George Woodbury Jr. M.D. (03/20/2023)

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