Hanahaki disease, also known as Hanahaki syndrome, is a rare genetic condition that results in the appearance of small, translucent spots on the skin. These spots can be seen on the skin, on the lips, or on the genitals.
The disease is caused by a genetic mutation. The mutation is passed down through families and affects only the skin.
In most cases, the spots are harmless and don’t cause any issues. They may be mistaken for acne, but the spots usually don’t last long, and they often go away on their own.
What causes hanahaki disease?
Hanahaki disease is a genetic condition. It’s known as a type of skin disease called congenital ichthyosis.
People who have the disease have a mutation on a gene called SCN4A. The mutation causes a change in the skin’s keratin protein, which is the protein that forms the outer layer of the skin.
The changes in the SCN4A gene don’t always result in visible symptoms. This is because the skin’s proteins are already in the wrong place and don’t contain the correct number of keratin proteins.
When the gene is changed, there are usually some proteins that aren’t made correctly. These incorrect proteins are called abnormal keratins, and the result is a change in the way the skin looks and feels.
The SCN4A gene mutation is passed down from both parents to the child. It isn’t always passed down through just one parent. It’s possible to pass the mutation on to the child either through a parent or through a sibling.
When the gene mutation is passed down, the person with the disease will have one of two different gene mutations. The most common gene mutation is a deletion in the SCN4A gene. This means there’s a deletion of a part of the gene that prevents keratin proteins from being made.
In the second type of gene mutation, there’s a substitution of the normal gene. It’s usually a small change, but in some people it’s a large change, and it can make the skin appear very different.
Other symptoms of hanahaki disease may include:
- A thin, translucent, scaly patch of skin, known as a hanahaki
- A rash that may be red or pink and may be accompanied by bumps
- Dry, cracked skin
- Thick, flaky skin
- A red line that runs from the middle of the hanahaki to the surface of the skin
You may also have a condition called acanthosis nigricans. This is a skin condition that causes dark, thick, velvety patches of skin.
The symptoms of hanahaki disease are similar to those of acanthosis nigricans. This is why it’s important to see a dermatologist to make sure you don’t have the condition.
What are the potential complications of hanahaki disease?
Hanahaki disease only causes a few spots of skin that can be seen on the skin. The spots are usually harmless. The spots don’t turn into lesions or other problems.
However, in some people, these spots can become large and become a health issue.
If you have hanahaki disease, you may see the following skin issues:
- A sore or lump on the area of the skin where the spot has appeared
- Thickened skin
- A rash
If the spots are large, they may be a sign of a condition called ichthyosis. This is a skin condition that causes thick, white scales to form on the skin.
If the spots are large and go away on their own, you may be able to live with them. However, if they become a health issue, you may need to see a dermatologist. This is because there are many different causes of large skin spots.
How is hanahaki disease diagnosed?
In most cases, a dermatologist can diagnose hanahaki disease by looking at the spots on the skin.
The dermatologist may also ask you about your symptoms and examine your skin, including the spots.
The dermatologist may order a skin biopsy to check for the gene mutation known as SCN4A. This is a blood test that checks for the SCN4A gene mutation.
If the dermatologist thinks you may have hanahaki disease, they may order a blood test to check for the gene mutation.
How is hanahaki disease treated?
If you have hanahaki disease, your dermatologist may recommend that you avoid certain products that may cause the spots.
If you have hanahaki disease, you may need to avoid products that are known to cause the spots, such as:
- Washing products
- Wearing clothing made of synthetic materials
- Wearing clothing made of wool
- Wearing cotton clothing
- Certain detergents
If you have skin spots, you may be advised to wear clothes made of natural materials that don’t cause the spots, such as cotton or wool.
You may also be advised to avoid certain products, such as deodorant, body lotion, and soaps.
Don’t use a product that you know is causing the spots. It may stop the spots from coming back, but it may also cause new spots.
How can I prevent hanahaki disease?
There’s no way to prevent hanahaki disease, but there are steps you can take to help prevent the spots from appearing.
You should avoid products that may be causing the spots, such as washing products. This includes detergents and laundry soaps.
If your dermatologist recommends washing products, choose nonirritating detergents and wash your clothing in gentle, warm water.
You should avoid clothing that’s made of synthetic materials. You should also avoid wool clothing, as wool can trap dirt and bacteria.
You should also avoid products that may be causing the spots, such as:
- Washing detergents
- Wearing clothing made of synthetic fibers
You may also want to avoid other products that may cause the spots.
Products that may cause the spots include:
- Shaving lotions
- Body lotions
- Body sprays
What is the outlook for people with hanahaki disease?
The outlook for people with hanahaki disease is good, provided they follow their dermatologist’s advice.
If the spots are large and go away on their own, you may be able to live with them. But if the spots become a health issue, you should see a dermatologist.
Over to you
Hanahaki disease is harmless. However, there are steps you can take to help prevent the skin spots from forming.
If you’re pregnant, talk to your dermatologist about the risks of doing certain things, such as using products that may be causing the spots.
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