How can you recognise loss of skin turgor?

The normal skin turgor is the elasticity (stretch) which enables skin to rapidly return to its previous position after it is gently pinched into a tent shape for 2 seconds. Normally skin returns to its position immediately after being pinched and then released. With decreased skin turgor, the skin takes longer than normal to return to its previous position. Decreased skin turgor is caused by a loss of fluid from the skin. The greater the loss of skin turgor, the longer it takes for the skin to go back to the normal position.

Skin turgor is best tested over the abdomen. Using the thumb and first finger, a fold of skin on one side of the umbilicus is lifted and gently squeezed for 2 seconds and then released. Observe how quickly or slowly the skin returns to its normal position.

Wasted newborn infants and marasmic children may have decreased skin turgor without being dehydrated (lack of subcutaneous fat) while decreased skin turgor can be difficult to detect in fat children who are dehydrated.

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