What causes stretchable skin? 4 possible conditions
Skin normally stretches and returns to its normal position if it’s well hydrated and healthy. Hyperelastic skin stretches beyond its normal limit. Although this usually isn’t a cause for concern, hyperelastic skin can be a symptom of many diseases and... Read more
Skin normally stretches and returns to its normal position if it’s well hydrated and healthy. Hyperelastic skin stretches beyond its normal limit. Although this usually isn’t a cause for concern, hyperelastic skin can be a symptom of many diseases and conditions. If you have symptoms of hyperelastic skin, talk to your doctor.
What causes hyperelastic skin?
A substance called collagen controls the elasticity of skin. Collagen is a form of protein that makes up a majority of tissues in the body. Hyperelasticity occurs when there’s an overproduction of collagen.
This condition is most commonly seen in people with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. This syndrome covers a group of disorders that affect connective tissues within the body. The condition is caused by a gene mutation, and people with it have excessive stretching of their skin and joints.
Other common diseases and syndromes that cause hyperelastic skin are:
- sun-related skin changes
- subcutaneous T-cell lymphoma
- Marfan syndrome
- osteogenesis imperfecta
- pseudoxanthoma elasticum
When should you see your doctor?
If you or your child has abnormally stretchy skin or extremely delicate skin, make an appointment to see your doctor. After examining your skin, your doctor may refer you to a dermatologist. A dermatologist is a specialist in skin care and diseases that affect the skin.
Notify your doctor if:
- blotches develop on your skin
- your skin becomes itchy
- you develop itchy patches on your skin
- you bruise easily
Diagnosing the causes of hyperelastic skin
If your skin stretches more than normal, consult your doctor for a diagnosis. After performing a physical exam, your doctor will ask you questions regarding your symptoms. Make sure to inform them:
- when you first began to notice the stretchy skin
- if it developed over time
- if you have a history of easily damaged skin
- if anyone in your family has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
Make sure to note any other symptoms you have in addition to stretchy skin.
There is no single test used to diagnose hyperelastic skin other than a physical exam. However, symptoms in addition to stretchy skin may help your doctor determine the cause. Depending on the diagnosis, your doctor may perform additional tests.
How is hyperelastic skin treated?
Hyperelastic skin can’t be treated. However, the underlying condition causing it may be treatable. For example, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is typically treated with a combination of physical therapy and prescription medication, and sometimes with surgery. If you’re diagnosed with subcutaneous T-cell lymphoma, you may be treated using topical steroids, radiation, and chemotherapy. Successful treatment of the condition may lessen symptoms of hyperelastic skin.
Since hyperelastic skin damages more easily, take these steps to prevent future skin injuries:
- wear sunscreen when going out in the sun
- be careful of sharp objects to avoid cuts, scrapes, or scars
- don’t use collagen-based skin care products without consulting your doctor
- wear gloves when using tools or when gardening
- Marfan Syndrome. (2010, October 1). Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/mar/
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015, August 20). Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome: Definition. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ehlers-danlos-syndrome/DS00706
- Osteogenesis Imperfecta. (2011, June). Retrieved from http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00051
- Pseudoxanthoma elasticum. (2016, October 11). Retrieved from http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/pseudoxanthoma-elasticum
See a list of possible causes in order from the most common to the least.
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