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Ichthyosis Vulgaris and the Gene Filaggrin

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 flaky, dry, parched skin, could be down to a little known missing gene referred to as filaggrin.

Ichthyosis vulgaris, what’s that then?

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

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

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

What are the symptoms?

  • 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.

The filaggrin connection

Filaggrin is a highly abundant protein, found in the outermost 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 the 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 skin barrier; the skin requires two genes for a healthy barrier function.

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

    • the 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 understand 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 skin 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.


Dry skin and the filaggrin gene:
Ichthyosis Vulgaris: the filaggrin mutation disease – NCBI:
Skin barrier in atopic dermatitis: beyond filaggrin – SciELO:
Ichthyosis Vulgaris is an inherited skin disorder:
I. Vulgaris in the skin:
Ichthyosis Vulgaris: Diagnosis and treatment:

6 thoughts on “Ichthyosis Vulgaris and the Gene Filaggrin

  1. Gregor Smith says:

    Samantha dear,
    THANK YOU for – well for everything! Stumbled into The Naked Chemist via a urea Google & it linked to your site. Am amazed at the wealth of information.
    Thank you for your contribution to humanity!
    Keep up the great work.

    • Samantha Miller says:

      Hi Gregory
      Thank you for your lovely comments and I am so glad you liked the article and I really hope it will help you in some way and it would be nice to have a legacy such as this thank you Gregory I am very touched. Samantha

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