What causes stretchable skin? 4 possible conditions
The skin normally stretches and returns to its normal position if it is well hydrated and healthy. Hyperelastic skin stretches beyond the normal limit. Although this is not usually cause for concern, hyperelastic skin can be a symptom of many diseases and conditions. If you suffer from hyperelastic skin, talk to your doctor.
A substance called collagen controls elasticity of the skin. Collagen is a form of protein that makes up the majority of the tissues within your body. When there is an overproduction of collagen, hyperelasticity occurs.
This condition is most commonly seen in people who suffer with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. People with this condition are sometimes referred to as rubber women or rubber men due to the excessive stretching of their skin and joints. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is causes by mutated genes and is a grouping of disorders that affect the connective tissues within the body. The main sign of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is extremely stretchy skin.
Other common diseases and syndromes that cause hyperelastic skin are:
- sun-related skin changes
- subcutaneous T-cell lymphoma
- Marfan syndrome
- osteogenesis imperfecta
- pseudoxanthoma elasticum
If you or your child has abnormally stretchy skin or extremely delicate skin, make an appointment to see your doctor. After examining the skin, your doctor may refer you to a dermatologist. A dermatologist is a specialist in skin care and diseases that affect the skin.
If you develop blotches on the skin, itchy skin, or itchy patches on the skin, notify your doctor.
If your skin stretches more than normal, consult with your doctor for a diagnosis. After performing a physical examination, your doctor will ask you questions regarding your symptoms. Make sure to inform him or her of when you first began to notice the stretchy skin, if it developed over time, or if you have a history of easily damaged skin. If anyone in your family has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, notify your doctor. Make sure to note any other symptoms you have in addition to the stretchy skin.
There is no one test used to diagnose hyperelastic skin other than a physical examination. However, additional symptoms on top of the stretchy skin may help lead your doctor to determine to the cause. Depending on the diagnosis, your doctor may perform additional tests.
Hyperelastic skin cannot be treated. However, the underlying condition causing the hyperelastic skin may be treatable. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, for example, is typically treated with a combination of physical therapy, prescription medication, and occasionally surgery. If you are diagnosed with subcutaneous T-cell lymphoma, you could be treated with topical steroids, radiation, and chemotherapy. Successful treatment of the cause of your hyperelastic skin may lessen the symptom.
Since hyperelastic skin is more easily damaged, take these following 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.
- Do not use collagen-based skin care products without consulting with your doctor.
- Wear gloves when using tools or when gardening.
- Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. (2010, April 20). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved July 20, 2012, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ehlers-danlos-syndrome/DS00706
- Marfan Syndrome. (2010, October 1). National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Retrieved July 20, 2012, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/mar/
- Osteogenesis Imperfecta. (2011, June). American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Retrieved July 20, 2012, from http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00051 http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00051
- Pseudoxanthoma Elasticum. (2012, May). Genetics Home Reference. Retrieved July 20, 2012, 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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