The skin protects a human body from the external factors. The layers that form the skin consist of different components, including those for exceeding the loss of body fluids as well as the uptake of harmful chemicals in the skin. Although human skin has a number of ectodermal tissues, the outermost layer that ensures the highest protection is the most vulnerable to various dermatological diseases, such as ichthyosis. This paper outlines the nature of this disease and describes its risks, manifestations, diagnosis, management, and methods of incorporating evidence-based information into practice with elder people.
First and foremost, it is necessary to define the dermatological disease in order to understand how to treat a patient. According to the Foundation for Ichthyosis and Related Skin Types, ichthyosis is “a family of genetic skin disorders characterized by dry, scaling skin that may be thickened or very thin” (“What Is Ichthyosis,” n. d., para.1). Although it affects people of all ages, gender, and races, the first symptoms of this disease mostly develop within the first year after the birth and continue to influence the person throughout his/her lifetime. Considering the old skin, it is necessary to admit that it tends to have a decreasing amount of natural skin oils as well as lubricants (Yang, & Alai, 2010). Thus, such areas as hands, arms, and lower legs often suffer from dry issues, especially in older age. Despite the fact that ichthyosis is not a common dermatological syndrome, older people prone to have this disease. If the patients do not care properly for their skin, ichthyosis may cause serious problems with their health.
Besides the general scaling condition of a person’s skin, psychological manifestations can appear due to the abnormal skin appearance which does not improve with time. This illness can disfigure an individual and affect huge areas of the body. In addition to particular medical complications such as infections, dehydration, rapid-calorie loss, chronic blistering, and overheating, people with ichthyosis are also vulnerable to different psychological issues. For example, some elderly patients often suffer from low self-esteem, depression, and concerns about isolation. All these conditions are common according to the appearance of their visibly shedding skin.
Patients who have severe forms of ichthyosis need to spend time every day to care for their skin in order to have the normal life as much as possible. However, for elderly these manipulations can be difficult due to their age. Sometimes, people suffering from severe ichthyosis may disregard certain risks to their health, for example overheating, as this disease might influence usual temperature control through decreasing the capability to sweat. Another risk is the limitations in movement as the dry and scaly skin can make it unpleasant for a patient to move. Cracking or splitting of the skin can provoke bacterial skin infections and even systemic infections. In case the skin builds up over the eyes or ears, it can impair hearing or eyesight.
Ichthyosis as a dermatological syndrome usually has a clinical diagnosis. However, it is possible to diagnose it by genetic testing in case special equipment is available in the centers (Ngan, 2015). Being a group of dermatological disorders which includes an abnormal function of epidermal skin, keratinization, and desquamation, ichthyosis has been defined in a descriptive way. However, today it is possible to distinguish this syndrome by genetic, histologic, molecular, and biochemical methods (Epps, 2010). Among the variety of forms of this disease, ichthyosis vulgaris is one of the most common. Thus, the researchers have performed a significant study covering this disease, atopic dermatitis (AD), and related dermatological disorders. As ichthyosis vulgaris often appears with atopic dermatitis, the research has presented a genetic fundament for such association in certain groups of populations, including babies and elderly (Epps, 2010). Multiple familial and international studies defined that FLG mutations in people with atopic dermatitis change normal skin formation, hydration, and function. As a result, this disease has been transformed into severe AD and asthma. According to the statistics, patients with both ichthyosis vulgaris and atopic dermatitis have a high risk for evolving asthma (Epps, 2010). Thus, the researchers have a strong evidence for a molecular and genetic groundwork for the reunion of both discussed dermatological disorders.
Although there is no defined treatment for ichthyosis, well-organized and systematic management can not only be useful but also make person’s daily lifestyle closer to normal. Firstly, it is important to keep cleansers without soap as it can exacerbate dryness. Secondly, people, especially older ones whose skin are drier, need to have a bath only in salt water and practice rubbing with an exfoliating sponge or a stone to take away scale. Thirdly, people suffered from ichthyosis should apply moisturizing creams, lotions or ointment forms that include urea, alpha hydroxy acids, or salicylic acid to the damp skin. Such products soften the skin and help in desquamation. Though, severe cases require taking oral isotretinoin and retinoids acitretin. Doctors also advise vitamin D for patients affected by ichthyosis.
In conclusion, ichthyosis is a group of dermatological disorders that usually appear within the first year of life and continues its effect on the entire lifetime. Particularly, elder people suffer more as their skin is prone to be drier than at young age. Except for general scaling skin symptoms and signs, this syndrome can cause psychological manifestations (depression, low-esteem, and isolation), especially in elderly. Despite the absence of special treatment, people should follow systematic management to alleviate the dermatological conditions of this disease.