Stretch Marks


What Are Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks, also known as striae or striae distensae, are a type of skin scarring that occurs when the skin is stretched or rapidly distended beyond its normal limits. They typically appear as linear, streak-like marks on the skin’s surface and can vary in color, texture, and size. Stretch marks often start as red, purple, or pinkish streaks, which may later fade to a lighter color, such as white or silver.

While stretch marks are a common and usually harmless condition, they can be a source of self-consciousness or concern for some individuals. While there is no guaranteed way to prevent stretch marks, maintaining a healthy weight, staying hydrated, and caring for the skin with moisturizers and topical treatments may help reduce their appearance. Various cosmetic treatments, such as laser therapy, microneedling, or topical creams, may also be used to improve the appearance of stretch marks, although results can vary.

What Causes Stretch Marks?

Rapid Growth or Weight Gain

One of the most common causes of stretch marks is rapid changes in body size or shape. This can occur during periods of rapid growth, such as puberty or pregnancy, or due to rapid weight gain from factors like overeating, hormonal changes, or certain medical conditions. The sudden stretching of the skin puts significant strain on the dermis, leading to the formation of stretch marks.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal fluctuations can affect the skin’s elasticity and make it more susceptible to stretching and the development of stretch marks. For example, during puberty, increased levels of hormones like estrogen and growth hormone can stimulate rapid growth and changes in body shape, leading to the formation of stretch marks. Similarly, hormonal changes during pregnancy or hormone therapy can also contribute to stretch mark formation.


Genetic factors may play a role in determining an individual’s susceptibility to stretch marks. If a person’s parents or close relatives have stretch marks, they may be more likely to develop them themselves. Genetics can influence the structural integrity of the skin, including the composition of collagen and elastin fibers, which can affect its ability to withstand stretching without damage.

Corticosteroid Use

Prolonged or excessive use of corticosteroid medications, whether topical (applied to the skin) or oral (taken by mouth), can weaken the skin’s structure and increase the risk of stretch mark formation. Corticosteroids can impair collagen synthesis and reduce skin elasticity, making it more prone to damage from stretching.

Underlying Health Conditions

Certain underlying health conditions can affect the skin’s elasticity and increase the risk of stretch mark formation. Conditions such as Cushing’s syndrome, Marfan syndrome, or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome can disrupt the normal structure and function of collagen and elastin fibers, making the skin more susceptible to damage from stretching.