Symptoms of ichthyosis vulgaris include dry, scaly skin; deep, painful cracks in the skin; white or brown scales; and peeling scalp, states Mayo Clinic. The condition may also cause tiny scales that resemble tiles.
Scales that occur due to ichthyosis vulgaris most often occur on the lower legs and elbows, explains Mayo Clinic. The condition may also cause thick, dark scales to form on the shins. The scales may be gray, brown or white depending upon the color of the skin. Humid weather tends to reduce symptoms, while cold and dry environments aggravate the problem.
In most cases, ichthyosis vulgaris is inherited; however, it may also occur in connection with conditions such as HIV/AIDS and cancer, reports Mayo Clinic. Individuals who inherit two defective genes experience more severe symptoms than those with single genes. The condition normally causes symptoms a few years after birth.
A physical examination and tests, such as skin biopsy, can help determine the exact cause of the condition, according to Mayo Clinic. There is no treatment for ichthyosis vulgaris; however, certain prescription medications, such as creams and ointments that contain hydroxy acids, may help keep the condition under control. Retinoids, which contain vitamin A, help to slow down the production of skin cells.