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Skin layers
Skin layers


Definition:

Ectodermal dysplasia is a group of conditions in which there is abnormal development of the skin, hair, nails, teeth, or sweat glands.



Alternative Names:

Anhidrotic ectodermal dysplasia



Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

There are many different types of ectodermal dysplasia.

Many gene defects can cause ectodermal dysplasias. The most common form of ectodermal dysplasia usually affects men. Other forms of the disease affect men and women equally.



Symptoms:

People with ectodermal dysplasia may not sweat or may have decreased sweating because of a lack of sweat glands.

Children with the disease may have difficulty controlling fevers. Mild illness can produce extremely high fevers, because the skin cannot sweat and control temperature properly.

Affected adults are unable to tolerate a warm environment and need special measures to keep a normal body temperature.

Other symptoms include:

  • Abnormal nails
  • Abnormal or missing teeth
  • Absent or very thin hair
  • Absent or decreased tears
  • Decreased skin color (pigment)
  • Foul-smelling nasal discharge
  • Heat intolerance
  • Inability to sweat
  • Large forehead
  • Light coloring
  • Lower than normal number of teeth
  • Low nasal bridge
  • Poor hearing
  • Poor temperature regulation
  • Poor vision
  • Thin hair
  • Thin skin


Signs and tests:

Tests that may be done include:



Treatment:

There is no specific treatment for this disorder.

Some things you can do include:

  • Wear a wig and dentures to improve appearance.
  • Use artificial tears to replace normal tearing and prevent drying of the eyes.
  • Spray the nostrils with saline nose spray often to remove debris and prevent infection.
  • Live in a cooler climate and take cooling water baths or use water sprays to keep a normal body temperature (water evaporating from the skin replaces the cooling function of sweat evaporating from the skin).


Support Groups:



Expectations (prognosis):

Having ectodermal dysplasia will not shorten your life span, but you must pay constant attention to temperature regulation and other problems associated with this condition.



Complications:
  • Brain damage caused by increased body temperature
  • Seizures caused by high fever (febrile seizures )


Calling your health care provider:

Call for an appointment with your health care provider if your child shows symptoms of this disorder.



Prevention:

If you have a family history of ectodermal dysplasia and you are planning to have children, genetic counseling is recommended. In many cases it is possible to diagnose ectodermal dysplasia while the baby is still in the womb.




Review Date: 3/25/2008
Reviewed By: Michael Lehrer, M.D., Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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