Weak elasticity and thinness are two distinct conditions that can affect your skin. Weak elasticity is frequently a symptom of moderate or severe dehydration, while potential causes of thin skin include advancing age and excessive exposure to sunlight. You may also develop changes in skin elasticity and thickness as symptoms of a group of genetic disorders known collectively as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, or EDS.
Loss of normal skin elasticity, also called normal skin turgor, commonly occurs when you lose 10 percent or more of your body fluid, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s Medline Plus. Potential underlying causes of fluid loss include vomiting, diarrhea, decreased fluid intake and heat stroke, which occurs when you sweat excessively while failing to maintain a proper fluid intake. You may also experience weakened skin elasticity after losing extreme amounts of weight or as a symptom of diabetes.
Age-related thin skin develops in combination with a loss of the fatty layer that normally protects your blood vessels, according to the Mayo Clinic. Sun exposure-related thin skin develops when sunlight degrades elastin fibers and collagen in the layer of your skin called the dermis. Additional potential causes of thin skin include genetic predisposition and prolonged use of medications such as topical or oral corticosteroids. You may also develop abnormally thin skin if you have certain bleeding disorders or the dangerous buildup of abnormal proteins associated with the condition called amyloidosis.
You can develop both weakened and thin skin as a consequence of destructive changes in connective tissue associated with the various forms of EDS, according to the Arthritis Foundation. In classical EDS, you may develop skin that tears or bruises easily, as well as excessively stretchy skin. You may also experience excessively stretchy skin if you develop the rare form of EDS called arthrochalasia. In vascular EDS, you may develop skin that is thin enough to appear translucent. In the rare form of EDS called dermatosparaxis, you may develop severely fragile skin in combination with a marked loss of skin elasticity.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your doctor can detect changes in your skin elasticity by momentarily grasping skin on your lower arm or abdomen, as well as the skin on the backs of your hands, Medline Plus reports. If your skin does not rapidly return to normal once released, some form of weakness is present. Your doctor can then uncover and treat the underlying causes of your condition. Although thin skin does not necessarily indicate the presence of medically significant changes, you should consult your doctor for a proper examination and diagnosis, the Mayo Clinic notes.
Treatments for EDS typically focus on the prevention of complications and injuries, the Arthritis Foundation reports. If you have any form of this syndrome, your doctor may recommend steps that include avoidance of activities likely to cause injuries, sun protection and fall prevention methods such as clearing walkways and entrances in your home. If you require surgery, your doctor may repair the resulting incisions with surgical tape or glue rather than traditional stitches.