Stretchy skin is typically a sign that you’re healthy and hydrated. However, abnormal stretchiness — known as skin hyperelasticity — can be a sign of some genetic disorder.
Normal healthy skin is of an even tone, unblemished, plump, firm, and yes, elastic. This elasticity is imparted by elastin — a protein roughly 1,000 times more flexible than collagen, giving your skin its characteristic stretchiness.
The production of elastin decreases as you age, and is also affected by damage from environmental stressors — resulting in looser, sagging skin that’s a telltale sign of aging. But what if you notice your skin to be abnormally stretchy?
A “pinch test” — also called the “skin turgor test” — can often help determine if your skin is “the right kind” of stretchy.
The pinch test is typically used to test for dehydration, but when the lack of fluids isn’t a concern, it may indicate a condition called hyperelastic skin.
While hyperelastic skin can occur as a standalone condition, it is typically a side-effect of other genetic disorders.
Such disorders result in skin stretching beyond what’s normal, although it returns to its original shape upon release. Skin hyperelasticity can be difficult to identify. especially in infants.
During a skin examination, a doctor is interested in any changes in the skin, such as texture and appearance. You can expect the following questions during an examination:
If your doctor suspects you to have EDS, they will follow up with an examination of your joints as well. You may be recommended to see a geneticist to narrow down the diagnosis with the specific type of EDS.
There is no specific treatment for hyperelastic skin. If you have been diagnosed with EDS, management with physical therapy, RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation), and prescription medications can help keep symptoms at bay.
Another condition that may cause hyperelasticity is Marfan’s syndrome, which can only be managed by medication or surgery to avoid severe symptoms.
Being a genetic disorder, skin hyperelasticity can’t be prevented, and managing the underlying cause is the only way to avoid the worsening of symptoms or other complications.