Search
Close this search box.

Stretch Marks

What are stretch marks?

Stretch marks are a common skin condition characterised by visible lines or streaks that appear on the skin’s surface. They often have a different colour or texture than the surrounding skin. Stretch marks are extremely common, affecting over 70% of the population. There are two types of stretch marks – striae rubra (red or new stretch marks) and striae alba (white or old stretch marks).

What causes stretch marks?

Stretch marks, as the name suggests, are due to stretching of the skin, which results in altered structural support in the deeper layers of the skin. Microscopic studies of stretch marks show alteration in collagen and diminished elastin, as well as swelling. Early stretch marks exhibit an increase in the number of blood vessels and inflammation, resulting in pink-purple discolouration.

What do stretch marks look like?

The first signs of stretch marks are pink to purple lines usually running crosswise on the trunk and lengthwise along the limb. Early stretch marks may be itchy and will lighten and develop a pale, wrinkled appearance over time known as striae alba. Stretch marks most commonly occur on the abdomen, inner arms, back and breast areas. Stretch marks may also develop in the groin and armpits if high-strength steroid creams are inappropriately used in these areas.

What other conditions lead to stretch marks?

How are stretch marks treated?

Stretch marks are a cosmetic problem and treatment is optional. The majority of stretch marks will fade over time. Early red stretch marks respond better to treatment than older, white stretch marks but no treatment will remove stretch marks completely.

Treatments