Do you suffer from dry skin?
Are you at a loss to know how to treat it?
Fortunately, good news could be on the horizon.
The latest research may have the answer, with a little-known missing gene called filaggrin.
Understanding Ichthyosis Vulgaris
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 surface of your skin; think fish scales, and you’re on the right track.
The name derives from Greece and quite 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?
- flaky scalp
- painful cracks
- scales on elbows and knees
- scaly skin coloured white or grey
- on darker-coloured skin, darker scales accumulate
People with ichthyosis vulgaris often have atopic eczema due to an inability to repair the barrier function.
Although there is no treatment, this research (1) 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 your skin.
This protein is vital for forming and hydrating the outer layer of your skin, which is also responsible for your barrier function.
A deficiency in the filaggrin gene causes an impaired barrier, leading to water loss, as this study demonstrated (2)
Allergens are also more likely to penetrate your 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 people susceptible to eczema typically 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
To conclude. The naked truth
This discovery is important because it brings us closer to understanding why some people suffer from dry skin and conditions like eczema.
Armed with this information, dermatologists and aestheticians are now in a much better position to focus on repairing and enhancing the skin barrier function.
If you want further reading, this controlled study (3) found a link between dry skin, allergens, and the protein filaggrin.
1. Filaggrin failure – from ichthyosis vulgaris to atopic eczema and beyond.
2. Hereditary And Acquired Ichthyosis Vulgaris
3. The allergy gene: how a mutation in skin protein reveals a link between eczema and asthma