Ichthyosis and Social Security Disability
Dry, flaky skin is common during winter months in cold climates. But some individuals have so much dry skin that the dead skin cells form “thick, dry scales on the skin's surface.” This is ichthyosis. Causes Ichthyosis vulgaris is an inherited genetic mutation. If only one parent has the defective gene, then the inherited disease tends to be mild in the child. If a child inherits defective genes from both parents, then the disease tends to be more severe. There is also acquired ichthyosis that shows up in adulthood due to “other diseases such as cancer, thyroid disease or HIV/AIDS.” Symptoms Ichthyosis can be present at birth, or show up in early childhood. Skin cellular turnover is slowed and this causes increased buildup of keratin “protein in the upper layer of the skin.” Symptoms include: Dry, scaly skin Tile-like, small scales Scales colored white, dirty gray or brown Flaky scalp Deep, painful cracks in the skin Information from the Mayo Clinic Diagnosis is usually done by physical examination of the skin. Doctors look for the telltale scales. Sometimes a skin biopsy is performed to rule out other possible conditions. Treatments “There is no known cure for ichthyosis, so the goal of treatment is to manage the condition.” To help with skin hydration and help control scaling, doctors can recommend using prescription creams and ointments containing alpha hydroxyl acids. Another prescription commonly used is for retinoids derived from vitamin A. The main problems with retinoids are some of the side effects, including birth defects. Some doctors require women of childbearing age to use effective birth control methods when prescribing retinoids. Some home remedies include using warm and not hot water for bathing. Using soaps with olive oil or other added fats help with moisture retention. Using a moisturizing product after bathing helps retain moisture as well. Another suggestion is using a humidifier to add moisture to the air which helps increase skin moisture as well. Social Security Disability The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates ichthyosis by reviewing “information about the onset, duration, frequency of flare-ups, and prognosis of the skin disorder; the location, size, and appearance of lesions; and, when applicable, history of exposure to toxins, allergens, or irritants, familial incidence, seasonal variation, stress factors, and an individual's ability to function outside of a highly protective environment.” The SSA prefers to have biopsies performed for additional medical evidence. Even if the SSA determines that an individual has ichthyosis, that does not automatically qualify the individual for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. The SSA must determine that the “skin disorder has caused extensive skin lesions that persist for at least 3 months despite continuing treatment as prescribed.” The SSA is looking at the severity of the condition, the frequency of flare-ups, how the symptoms, including pain, limit an individual's daily activities, and how the treatment limits an individual's daily activities. SSD applications require extensive documentation on an applicant's medical condition. If you are considering applying for disability benefits in Georgia, contact our experienced attorney to assist you.