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Hyperelastic skin

Definition

Hyperelastic skin is skin that can be stretched beyond what is considered normal, and then returns to normal.

Alternative Names

India rubber skin

Considerations

Hyperelasticity occurs when there is a problem with the production of collagen fibers. Collagen is a type of protein that makes up much of the body's tissue.

Common Causes

Hyperelastic skin is most often seen in the Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. People with this disorder are sometimes referred to as rubber men or women because of the increased elasticity of their skin and joints that can be bent more than is normally possible.

Other diseases that may cause easily stretchable skin include:

  • Marfan syndrome
  • Osteogenesis imperfecta
  • Pseudoxanthoma elasticum
  • Subcutaneous T-cell lymphoma
  • Sun-related changes of older skin

Home Care

People with hyperelastic skin are more likely than others to have damage to the skin (cuts, scrapes, scarring). The skin may be more delicate than normal skin. Extra care must be taken to avoid damage to the skin, and the skin should be examined frequently for problems. Consult your health care provider for specific recommendations.

Call your health care provider if

Call your health care provider if:

  • The skin appears to be very stretchy
  • Your child appears to have delicate skin

What to expect at your health care provider's office

Your doctor will perform a physical examination.

Your doctor may ask questions about your symptoms, such as:

  • Did the skin appear abnormal at or near the time of birth, or did this develop over time?
  • Is there a history of the skin becoming damaged easily, or being slow to heal?
  • Was Ehlers-Danlos syndrome suspected or confirmed as a diagnosis for you or any member of your family?
  • What other symptoms are also present?

The physical examination may include detailed skin, skeleton, and muscle examination. The joints may be moved in several directions to assess the distance and direction of movement in each joint.

References

Islam MP, Roach ES. Neurocutaneous syndromes. In: Bradley WG, Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, eds. Neurology in Clinical Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Butterworth-Heinemann; 2008:chap 69.

Morelli JG. Diseases of the dermis. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 658.


Review Date: 10/10/2010
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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