Ichthyosis vulgaris is caused by loss-of-function mutations in the filaggrin gene (FLG) and is characterized clinically by xerosis, scaling, keratosis pilaris, palmar and plantar hyperlinearity, and a strong association with atopic disorders. According to the published studies presented in this review article, FLG mutations are observed in approximately 7·7% of Europeans and 3·0% of Asians, but appear to be infrequent in darker-skinned populations. This clinical review article provides an overview of ichthyosis vulgaris epidemiology, related disorders and pathomechanisms. Not only does ichthyosis vulgaris possess a wide clinical spectrum, recent studies suggest that carriers of FLG mutations may have a generally altered risk of developing common diseases, even beyond atopic disorders. Mechanistic studies have shown increased penetration of allergens and chemicals in filaggrin-deficient skin, and epidemiological studies have found higher levels of hand eczema, irritant contact dermatitis, nickel sensitization and serum vitamin D levels. When relevant, individuals should be informed about an increased risk of developing dermatitis when repeatedly or continuously exposed to nickel or irritants. Moreover, with our current knowledge, individuals with ichthyosis vulgaris should be protected against neonatal exposure to cats to prevent atopic dermatitis and should abstain from smoking to prevent asthma. Finally, they should be advised against excessive exposure to factors that decrease skin barrier functions and increase the risk of atopic dermatitis.
© 2013 The Authors. BJD © 2013 British Association of Dermatologists.