Skin Diseases You’ve Probably Never Heard Of:
Elastoderma (EL) is a rare disorder characterized by thinning and wrinkling of the epidermis. The condition usually occurs in infancy or childhood, but it may occur at any age. It affects approximately 1 out of every 10,000 individuals worldwide. Elastoderma can affect both males and females equally.
Approximately 50% of cases are found in children under five years old. Children with elastoderma have a tendency to develop dry, scaly patches on their bodies and faces. These patches may become red, bumpy, thickened or even black in color. Other symptoms include hair loss and sores on the face. The skin becomes rough and brittle due to lack of elasticity. The skin may appear pale and scaly.
The most common symptom is a loose appearance of the skin. Some affected individuals experience a severe case of elastoderma where they lose all their body hair and develop large bumps on their heads. Others will only experience minor symptoms such as hair loss, scaly patches or small bumps on the head.
Symptoms vary from person to person depending upon how much time elapses since onset of the disease. The distribution of scaly skin patches and bumps on the head also varies.
Elastoderma is a rare disease caused by an over-expression of a particular protein known as collagen. The protein is responsible for giving the skin its elasticity. In elastoderma, the protein is excessively produced causing the skin to lose its elasticity, making it prone to tearing and bruising easily. There is no cure for elastoderma.
Treatment focuses on management of symptoms. The following can be used to treat the disease:
Moisturizers to keep the skin hydrated and elastic
Oral retinoids to increase cell turnover and exfoliation
Surgery for complications such as facial deformities or severe dryness.
An attempt at skin grafting has also resulted in some success for cases involving large skin loss.
For more severe cases of elastoderma, immunosuppressive drugs can be used to treat the disease. These drugs work by decreasing the activity of the body’s immune system.
Elastoderma is considered a genetic disorder that is inherited from your parents. The skin condition results from the existence of too much of a particular protein. The severity of symptoms caused by elastoderma can vary, ranging from mild dry skin to thick patches of scaly skin.
Elastoderma can be diagnosed by a dermatologist. A skin biopsy may be used to confirm the disease and aid in giving the correct treatment. There is currently no cure for elastoderma. Treatment is focused on the management of the symptoms.
1.Elastoderma “Elastoderm”. Wikipedia.org Accessed February 23, 2013.
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