Ichthyosis follicularis, alopecia, and photophobia (IFAP) syndrome

Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2011 May 21:6:29. doi: 10.1186/1750-1172-6-29.


The IFAP syndrome is a rare X-linked genetic disorder reported in nearly 40 patients. It is characterized by the triad of Ichthyosis Follicularis, Alopecia, and Photophobia from birth. Other features such as short stature, intellectual disability, and seizures may develop in the first few years of life. Skin histopathology is non-specific and consists of dilated hair follicles with keratin plugs extending above the surface of the skin, decreased or absent sebaceous glands, and decreased desmosomes in number and size. The disorder results from mutations in the MBTPS2 gene that impairs cholesterol homeostasis and the ability to cope with endoplasmic reticulum stress. Follicular hyperkeratosis can be treated using topical keratolytics, emollients and urea preparations. A moderate response to acitretin therapy has been noted in some patients. Intensive lubrication of the ocular surface is essential. Life expectancy in patients with IFAP syndrome can vary from death in the neonatal period to normal surviving. Cardiopulmonary complications remain the major cause of death.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acitretin / therapeutic use
  • Alopecia / complications
  • Alopecia / drug therapy
  • Alopecia / genetics
  • Alopecia / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Ichthyosis / complications
  • Ichthyosis / drug therapy
  • Ichthyosis / genetics
  • Ichthyosis / pathology*
  • Keratolytic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Mutation
  • Photophobia / complications
  • Photophobia / drug therapy
  • Photophobia / genetics
  • Photophobia / pathology*


  • Keratolytic Agents
  • Acitretin

Supplementary concepts

  • Ichthyosis follicularis atrichia photophobia syndrome