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Lamellar Ichthyosis

  • Author: Heather Kiraly Orkwis; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
Updated: Sep 22, 2014


Lamellar ichthyosis (LI) is an autosomal recessive disorder that is apparent at birth and is present throughout life. The newborn is born encased in a collodion membrane that sheds within 10-14 days. The shedding of the membrane reveals generalized scaling with variable redness of the skin. The scaling may be fine or platelike, resembling fish skin. Although the disorder is not life threatening, it is quite disfiguring and causes considerable psychological stress to affected patients.

See the image below.

Collodion baby with translucent membrane of the bo Collodion baby with translucent membrane of the body.


Patients with lamellar ichthyosis have accelerated epidermal turnover with proliferative hyperkeratosis, in contrast to retention hyperkeratosis. This involves a mutation in the gene for transglutaminase 1 (TGM1). There are at least 14 identified different TGM1 mutations.[1] The transglutaminase 1 enzyme is involved in the formation of the cornified cell envelope. The formation of the cornified cell envelope is an essential scaffold upon which normal intercellular lipid layer formation in the stratum corneum occurs. Thus, mutations in the TGM1 secondarily cause defects in the intercellular lipid layers in the stratum corneum, leading to defective barrier function of the stratum corneum and to the ichthyotic phenotype seen in lamellar ichthyosis patients and in transglutaminase 1 knockout mice. How much a defective cornified cell envelope alone contributes to the barrier abnormality in ichthyoses remains unclear.[2]

To date, 6 genes for lamellar ichthyosis have been localized and 5 of them identified, as follows[3] :

  • TGM1 (14q11)
  • ABCA12 (2q34)
  • 19p12-q12
  • 19p13
  • ALOXE3-ALOX12B (17p13)
  • ichthyin (5q33)



United States

Prevalence is less than 1 case per 300,000 individuals.


In the neonatal period, following the shedding of the collodion membrane, the newborn is at risk for secondary sepsis and hypernatremic dehydration.

As the child ages, the hyperkeratosis can interfere with normal sweat gland function, which can predispose to heat intolerance and possible heat shock. Ectropion may result in the inability to fully close the eyelids and can cause exposure keratitis.

External auditory canal stenosis and tympanic membrane blunting may result in a conductive hearing loss. Osseointegrated hearing devices may effectively bypass this hearing defect.

Less common associations include orthopedic abnormalities such as genu valgum, other ocular problems such as corneal perforation, and rickets.

Like other ichthyoses, lamellar ichthyosis may be especially prone to widespread, severe, and chronic Trichophyton rubrum infections.[4]


Lamellar ichthyosis affects all populations.


Incidence in males and females is equal.


The disease is present at birth and continues throughout life.

A rare phenotype of lamellar ichthyosis has been described in South Africa. The term bathing-suit ichthyosis describes the characteristic distribution of the lesions, which involve the trunk, the proximal parts of the upper limbs, the scalp, and the neck, with sparing of the central face and extremities. This form of lamellar ichthyosis is caused by a homozygous missense mutation in TGM1.[5, 6]

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Heather Kiraly Orkwis Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Heather Kiraly Orkwis is a member of the following medical societies: Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Jeffrey Meffert, MD Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology, University of Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio

Jeffrey Meffert, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American Medical Association, Association of Military Dermatologists, Texas Dermatological Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Theresa Dressler Conologue, DO, FAAD Physician, Department of Dermatology, Geisinger Medical Center

Theresa Dressler Conologue, DO, FAAD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, American Academy of Dermatology, American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

David F Butler, MD Section Chief of Dermatology, Central Texas Veterans Healthcare System; Professor of Dermatology, Texas A&M University College of Medicine; Founding Chair, Department of Dermatology, Scott and White Clinic

David F Butler, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Medical Association, Alpha Omega Alpha, Association of Military Dermatologists, American Academy of Dermatology, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, American Society for MOHS Surgery, Phi Beta Kappa

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Van Perry, MD Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Dermatology, University of Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio

Van Perry, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

William D James, MD Paul R Gross Professor of Dermatology, Vice-Chairman, Residency Program Director, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

William D James, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, Society for Investigative Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Daniel J Hogan, MD Clinical Professor of Internal Medicine (Dermatology), Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine; Investigator, Hill Top Research, Florida Research Center

Daniel J Hogan, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Dermatology, American Contact Dermatitis Society, Canadian Dermatology Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Collodion baby with translucent membrane of the body.
Keratoderma of the palms in a patient with lamellar ichthyosis. Courtesy of Dirk Elston, MD.
Inflexible fingers due to taut skin in a young patient with lamellar ichthyosis. Courtesy of Dirk Elston, MD.
Nail dystrophy and inflammation of the nail folds. Courtesy of M. Bryan, MD.
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