Do you suffer from dry skin?

Are you at a loss to know how to treat it?

Fortunately there could be good news on the horizon.

Research has found that the answer to your flaky, parched skin, could be down to a little known missing gene referred to as filaggrin.


This is pronounced Ik-thee-O-sis vul-GAY-ris.

It’s a genetic skin condition, where dead skin cells accumulate in thick, dry layers on the skin’s surface, think fish scales and you’re on the right track.

In actually fact, the name derives from Greece and literally means fish scale disease.

But I digress, often very mild cases of this condition can go undiagnosed and mistaken for extremely dry skin.

Ichthyosis vulgaris slows down your skin’s natural shedding process, which can lead to a severe buildup of excessive protein in the skins upper layers.


  • Dryness
  • Flaky scalp
  • Painful cracks
  • Scales on elbows and knees
  • Scaly skin colored white, or grey
  • On darker colored skin darker scales accumulate

People with ichthyosis vulgaris often have atopic eczema, which is due to an inability to repair the barrier function, although there is no treatment, research has found that it could be due to the filaggrin gene.


Filaggrin is a highly abundant protein, found in the outer most part of our skin.

This protein is vital for the formation and hydration of our outer layer of skin, which is also responsible for our barrier function.

A deficiency in this filaggrin gene causes an impaired barrier, which can lead to water loss.

Allergens are also likely to penetrate the skin, triggering inflammatory and allergic immune responses, including atopic eczema.

In a normal skin cell there are usually two copies of the filaggrin gene, research has discovered that those people who are susceptible to eczema, usually have only one copy of this gene.

Whilst one gene is enough to form the skins barrier, the skin requires two genes for healthy barrier function.

Once the barrier is out of balance, problems can occur:

  • Texture becomes rough
  • Skin becomes dry
  • Water escapes from the tissues, leading to dehydration
  • Fine lines and wrinkles may appear prematurely
  • Allergens can enter the skin which disrupts the immune system, causing inflammation


This discovery is important, because it brings us one step closer, to understanding why some people suffer from dry skin and conditions such as eczema.

Armed with this information, scientists, dermatologists and aestheticians, are now in a much better position to focus on repairing and enhancing the skins barrier function.

If you would like further reading you may enjoy this article, a controlled study on the link between dry skin, allergens and the protein filaggrin.


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