Stretch Marks

Pink or purple lines on the skin, most commonly over the abdomen, buttocks, breasts, and thighs

  • Sometimes occur as a result of growth spurts at puberty
  • More common in females
  • More common in pregnant women and overweight people
  • Genetics is not a significant factor

Stretch marks, also called striae, occur when fibres of the skin protein collagen are broken due to rapid stretching of the skin or to hormonal changes that disrupt the fibres. The marks affect 3 in 5 pregnant women and are common in adolescent girls undergoing growth spurts. Overweight people may also develop them, especially if weight gain is rapid. They also occur in people with Cushing’s syndrome and in those using oral corticosteroids or topical corticosteroids.

Stretch marks first appear as pink or purple raised lines on the abdomen, thighs, breasts, or buttocks. They vary in length and may be between 6 mm ( 1 / 4 in) and 12 mm ( 1 / 2 in) wide. Over a few months, they usually become pale and flatten, eventually becoming barely noticeable. There are no effective preventive measures or treatments.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

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