Extensibility of Skin

The extensibility of the skin varies with age and is greatest in older people. There are also differences between the sexes, apparently dependent on hormonal variations. Female skin is more extensible at all ages. There is variable extensibility in different parts of the body—the neck and elbow skin is looser than the skin on the forearms and hips. Extensibility depends on the collagen content of the skin. There are ways to measure precisely the extensibility of skin, which involve attaching a weight onto a piece of skin and measuring how far it stretches.

For clinical purpose, a subjective estimate of skin extensibility is usually sufficient. An easy way to estimate extensibility of skin is to pinch the outer side of the upper arm, holding the skin between the thumb and index finger, then lightly pulling it upward. If the skin stretches more than 1 cm, hyperextensibility should be suspected.

Patterns Reflected by the Skin

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