Hyperelastic skin is skin that can be stretched beyond what is considered normal. The skin returns to normal after it is stretched.
Hyperelasticity occurs when there is a problem with how the body makes collagen fibers. Collagen is a type of protein that makes up much of the body's tissue.
Hyperelastic skin is most often seen in people who have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. People with this disorder have very elastic skin. They also have joints that can be bent more than is normally possible. For this reason, they are sometimes referred to as rubber men or women.
Other conditions that may cause skin that is easily stretched include:
- Marfan syndrome (genetic disorder of human connective tissue)
- Osteogenesis imperfecta (congenital bone disorder characterized by brittle bones)
- Pseudoxanthoma elasticum (rare genetic disorder that causes fragmentation and mineralization of elastic fibers in some tissues)
- Subcutaneous T-cell lymphoma
- Sun-related changes of older skin
You need to take special steps to avoid skin damage when you have this condition because your skin is more delicate than normal. You are more likely to get cuts and scrapes, and scars may stretch and become more visible.
Talk to your health care provider about what you can do for this problem. Get skin check-ups often.
If you need surgery, discuss with your doctor how the wound will be dressed and cared for after the procedure.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your provider if:
- Your skin appears to be very stretchy
- Your child appears to have delicate skin
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your provider will do a physical exam to assess your skin, bones, muscles, and joints.
Some questions your provider might ask about you or your child are:
- Did the skin appear abnormal at birth, or did this develop over time?
- Is there a history of the skin becoming damaged easily, or being slow to heal?
- Have you or any member of your family been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome?
- What other symptoms are present?
Genetic counseling may be helpful to determine if you have an inherited disorder.
India rubber skin
Islam MP, Roach ES. Neurocutaneous syndromes. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 100.
James WD, Berger TG, Elston DM. Abnormalities of dermal fibrous and elastic tissue. In: James WD, Berger TG, Elston DM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 25.
Review Date 10/31/2016
Updated by: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.