Ichthyosis is a group of inherited skin disorders that are characterized by dry, flaky, thickened, or cracked skin. When the skin cracks, it is said to resemble fish scales, thus why the name ichthyosis came from the Greek word “ichthys”, which means “fish”. The symptoms and severity vary depending on the type of ichthyosis involved.
Types of Ichthyosis
There are over 28 different types of ichthyosis. A few of them are discussed below.
This is the most common type that makes up at least 95% of all ichthyosis cases. This type causes dead cells to accumulate resulting in dry, scaly skin and tends to be mild in severity. However, in rare cases the condition can be severe where scales buildup everywhere around the body, significantly interfering with an individual’s ability to function.
Is a rare type of ichthyosis that causes the stratum corneum of the epidermis to thicken. This condition can be life threatening and it is characterized by thick white plates that are separated by deep cracks.
X-linked Ichthyosis (XLI)
Is a type of ichthyosis caused by the deficiency of the steroid sulfatase enzyme. The lack of the STS enzyme results in the manifestation of dry, scaly skin.
This type is present from birth and is characterized by the presence of a collodion membrane (an extra layer of shiny skin) at birth. This membrane typically sheds 10 to 14 days after birth. This will expose the skin showing vast scaling due to hyperkeratosis (thickening of the stratum corneum). This condition often leads to other types of ichthyosis or skin disorders.
How does the SSA evaluate skin disorders such as ichthyosis?
The SSA looks at the following when determining eligibility:
1.) Extensive skin legions – are legions that affect multiple parts of the body and cause a serious limitation.
2.) Frequency of flare-ups – the SSA will consider how long, often and severe an applicant’s flare-ups are as well as how the applicant functions in between flare-ups. This is to ensure the applicant would be unable to engage in gainful activity for at least 12 months.
3.) Symptoms – the SSA will assess how an applicant’s symptoms such as pain interfere with his or her ability to function.
4.) Treatment – the SSA will assess the effects of the applicant’s treatment. This includes the type of treatment prescribed, the applicant’s response to the treatment, the side effects of the treatment, and the duration of the treatment.
Qualifying for Disability with Ichthyosis
All types of ichthyosis are evaluated under listing 8.02 of Skin Disorders.
Applicant has ichthyosis with extensive skin lesions that continue for more than 3 months in spite of using prescribed treatment.
Medical Vocational Allowance
If an applicant has ichthyosis that comes and goes in waves, and therefore doesn’t exactly meet the listing above, he or she may still qualify if the flare-ups occur often enough and cause limitations that prevent him or her from engaging in gainful activity. The best way to prove that an applicant’s ichthyosis limits their ability to work is to have their treating doctor fill out a physical residual functional capacity form. This form will evaluate what the applicant is capable of despite his or her condition.