Folded skin theory, evolution and pathology
Folded skin is similar to pinched skin, but from inside of you.
A fold is a groove in your skin, an inward indentation.
You can imagine folding a piece of paper, but what happens when you do the same with a living tissue?
On this page
What happens to the internal components when the skin is folded.
From early fold formation to engraved folds.
The consequences of folds on skin; cellulite, stretch marks, varicose veins, ...
Skin is a living tissue
Skin is a multi-layered tissue containing a large number of living components.
Every point is irrigated and innervated by a complex system of branching blood vessels and free nerve endings.
Skin is packed with elements that are essential to your well-being such as: hair follicles, sweat glands, sebum glands, specialized receptors for pain, touch, temperature, vibration, ...
The layers of non-folded skin
What effect would folding the skin have on the performance of its constituents?
What effect would numerous folds on the body have on the health of an individual?
Folds have an adverse effect on skin
What would folded skin look like?
As you can see, both sides of the fold become walls, facing each other.
They are held together by a filling composed mostly of hardened epidermis cells.
Inoperative trapped skin components
Part of the skin becomes engulfed into the fold.
Some hair follicles and sweat glands, that normally expulse their content at the surface, now see their exits blocked.
Most of their vital functions, hair, sebum and sweat production, are halted.
It is like if time was suspended for them.
Hair stops growing and doesn't even whiten.
Complete folds and surface folds
The fold illustrated above is a complete fold because the whole skin, epidermis, dermis and hypodermis, is entirely bent over.
Many complete folds are formed early in the life of an individual, when the skin is still supple and thin, but they keep on developing until you die.
Complete folds start out as surface folds.
Those shallow and small grooves only bend the top of the skin.
They proliferate by creating lines between your existing fold crossings.
How long is a fold?
Folds have a tendency to go for as long as they can.
For this reason, most large ones circle completely around your body.
Circular articulation folds
The skin of many parts of your body is tubular;
fingers, arms, legs, neck, trunk, ...
All these tubes are vertical.
Some sections along them cover articulations.
These articulations work only one way and do not permit flexing in the opposite direction.
This means your skin tubes are always bending on the same side.
Compressed and stretched folds
This situation creates two types of folds;
Articulations only bend on one side,
producing two kinds of folds.
•Compressed folds tend to be few in number, but deep.
The skin really gets folded tightly.
•Stretched folds are small and numerous, but they ain't as deep.
You will find stretched and compressed folds at every articulation on your body
Both types meet on the sides of the skin tubes, creating circular horizontal folds.
If a fold meets an obstacle on its path, such as a bone beneath the skin or simply another fold, a hot spot is created.
The epidermis formed at the point where the fold and the obstacle meet will slowly link and attach them together.
This phenomenon greatly reduces the skin’s mobility causing an anchoring effect.
Many folds aren't perpendicular to the skin’s surface.
Their path is angled because one side receives more pressure.
In some cases, the walls of the fold become almost parallel to the skin’s surface.
Folds have phases in their evolution;
•At first, they are not etched into the skin and only appear when a movement creates them.
•Then, they slowly solidify, deepen, harden and tighten to become permanent.
Let's try to imagine how unfolded skin reacts to a folding movement.
Please picture a theoretical virgin wrist.
• When the wrist is at rest,
there is no fold.
• When flexing begins,
the fold starts out very short and shallow.
• As the flexing accentuates,
the fold lengthens and deepens.
• This ideal skin would bounce back to its unfolded state as soon as the wrist is straitened.
Damage done by repeated folding
If your skin was to be folded only occasionally, of course no damage would occur.
But think of how often you wink, swallow, talk or eat and you’ll understand that folding represents a real challenge for your skin.
You know the impact folding has on objects.
You probably fold some things repeatedly to separate or divide them.
Fold repeatedly to break apart
How damaging the process is depends on;
•The rigidity and elasticity of the folded material,
•How long you do it,
•At what speed,
•What vigor is applied,
Repeated folding creates heat
When the skin is folded repeatedly, heat builds-up on the floor of the fold.
The structural integrity of the material is put to test and some is mutilated in the process.
Luckily, skin is unbelievably flexible and elastic.
It can be folded thousands of times without damage.
However, when things get real hot, your skin has to protect itself.
The heat build-up triggers specific epidermis formation into action.
Epidermis formation inside a fold
We have seen how epidermis coats are formed on the epidermis page.
Your skin treats folds as injuries and tries to repair their damage.
The wound healing process involves the formation of layers of epidermis cells at the bottom of the fold to protect the skin.
Coating the fold’s floor
While the repeated folding is occurring, the excess heat is concentrated all along the path of the fold, on its floor.
In reaction, the skin will pave the bottom of the fold’s route with a fresh coat of epidermis to prevent any tearing.
A new coat of epidermis inside a fold
Over time, epidermis formation will come into action several times on the same fold.
Coats and cyclic activities
You do things, then you stop doing them.
You may do some once a day, on week-ends only, once a month, ...
In some occasions, you may perform these activities with much more intensity, speed, stamina and stress or for a longer time.
One thing is sure; if an activity is frequent and physically demanding, folds will develop and engrave the skin.
Folds growing inward
Since the fold is a groove, it deepens into your skin as new coats are added.
Epidermis coats inside a fold
Each time epidermis formation paves the fold, it strengthens and hardens it.
Each new coat finds a new, evolved situation.
Conditions have changed slightly.
Each point in the fold experiences changing pressures, and these affect the shape of its growth.
This results in a different epidermis structure for each new coat.
As their number increases, unfolded skin at the top is pulled down, and the whole edifice deepens into the flesh.
Coats and grooming
When you groom a fold, it unfolds coat by coat.
You can feel each coat yielding beneath your nail.
cellulite, stretch marks and varicose veins
Cellulite is characterized by visible patterns of bumps and lines on the skin.
Of course, those lines are caused by deep folds.
Cellulite can be groomed away with pressure strokes.
• Stretch marks
Stretch marks are simply folds that are pulled open by an enlargement of part of the body usually due to puberty, pregnancy, muscle building, weight gain, ...
Normally, the folds are kept closed by the epidermis formed within each one to protect the skin against tearing.
When a sudden growth happens, the stretching pulls on the skin and opens some folds.
Since part of their protective hardness is removed, they feel soft.
Stretch marks follow parallel fold patterns
Stretch marks, also called «Striae», are known as parallel grooves in the skin.
This parallelism and their generally vertical orientation only validate the fact that they are folds.
• Varicose veins - Blood flow obstructed by folds
Folds hamper blood circulation.
When blood vessels get near a fold, they get flattened and crushed.
Their passages become constricted so the blood can't flow normally.
The veins enlarge because the blood can't go forward anymore.
Their visibility augments.
Blood vessels have to swerve around the folds to continue their course.