Much has been written but little settled regarding the subject of newborn infants encased in a sheath-like membrane (Fig. 1). This collodion- or parchment-like covering is so typical in appearance that even though one has not seen this condition previously, he will use these terms to describe the infant. Shortly after birth this sheath dries, fissures, and tends to separate from the body in sheets.
In 1895, Grass and Török1 introduced the very descriptive term "lamellar exfoliation of the newborn" and suggested that this was an entity apart from ichthyosis congenita (harlequin fetus). Five years later, Riecke2 classified a group of 54 infants and children into three types of ichthyosis congenita. The first group was that of the harlequin fetus, which invariably dies. The second group consisted of the infant born with a collodion-like sheath, in whom death may occur. The third group has minimal findings at