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Alternative namesDoughy skin; Poor skin turgor; Good skin turgor; Decreased skin turgor
DefinitionSkin turgor is an abnormality in the skin's ability to change shape and return to normal (elasticity). Skin turgor is the skin's degree of resistance to deformation and is determined by various factors, such as the amount of fluids in the body (hydration) and age.
Skin turgor is one way to estimate the state of hydration (fluids) and, to a lesser extent, nutrition.
Skin turgor is a sign commonly used by health care workers to assess the degree of fluid loss or dehydration . Fluid loss can occur from common conditions, such as diarrhea or vomiting . Infants and young children with vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased or no fluid intake can rapidly lose a significant amount of fluid. Fever accelerates this process.
The skin on the back of the hand, lower arm, or abdomen is grasped between two fingers so that it is tented up. The skin is held for a few seconds then released. Skin with normal turgor snaps rapidly back to its normal position. Skin with decreased turgor remains elevated and returns slowly to its normal position.
Decreased skin turgor is a late sign in dehydration. It is associated with moderate to severe dehydration. Fluid loss of 5% of the body weight is considered mild dehydration, 10% is moderate and 15% or more is severe dehydration.
Note: Edema (accumulation of fluid in the tissues that causes swelling ) causes the skin to be extremely difficult to pinch up.
Connective tissue disorders, such as scleroderma and Ehler's-Danlos syndrome, can also affect the elasticity of the skin. This is not related to fluids, however, but to a change in the elastic properties of the skin tissue.
A quick check of skin turgor by pinching the skin over the back of the hand, on the abdomen, or over the front of the chest under the collarbone is a good way to check for dehydration at home.
Mild dehydration will cause the skin to be slightly slow in its return to normal. To rehydrate, drink more fluids -- particularly water.
If turgor is severe, indicating moderate or severe dehydration, see your health care provider immediately!
Call your health care provider if
A general physical examination and health history will be performed.
Medical history questions documenting skin turgor in detail may include:
Diagnostic tests that may be performed are:
Update Date: 5/21/2002Thomas A. Owens, M.D., Departments of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT