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Topical treatment of ichthyoses


Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Philip Fleckman, MD, University of Washington, Dermatology, Box 356524, 1959 NE Pacific St, Seattle, WA 9815-6524, or email:


Management of ichthyoses is a complex and continuously dynamic process. Primary treatments of ichthyosis are by means of topical moisturizers and topical medications. Patients and families need to have reasonable and realistic expectations when it comes to topical therapy. Topical medications cannot cure the scaling, but can gradually reduce it and thus improve their condition. No one treatment regimen works for everyone, and the best topical therapy for each patient may be the result of months (or years) of painstaking effort on both the physician's and the patient's behalf. As patients get older and their activities and lifestyles change, so should their topical treatment regimen. Bear in mind that the more complex the skin care regimen and costly the topical treatments, the less likely a patient and their family will be compliant.