Stretch marks, are a common skin condition manifesting as linear scars due to rapid stretching of the skin. While not medically serious, they often impact self-esteem and body image. Stretch marks can develop during pregnancy, puberty, rapid weight changes, or due to certain medical conditions. They initially appear as striae rubra, evolving into striae alba over time.
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What are Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks are scars that form when the skin stretches rapidly, causing damage to the dermis.
Who gets Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks can affect anyone but are more common in pregnant women, adolescents undergoing growth spurts, and individuals with rapid weight changes.
Stretch marks are characterised by linear, atrophic scars. They begin as striae rubra, red or purple, and gradually fade to striae alba, pale and less noticeable.
Diagnosis and differential diagnosis
Diagnosis is typically straightforward based on appearance. No special tests are usually needed to make a diagnosis. Differential diagnosis may include conditions that cause similar skin changes.
Impact and complications
While medically benign, stretch marks can significantly impact self-esteem and body image. Rarely, large stretch marks may rupture.
Subtypes and variants
- Striae Rubra – Initial, red/purple stage.
- Striae Alba – Mature, pale stage.
Stretch Marks in Social Media and Popular Press
In social media and popular press, stretch marks are often discussed in the context of body positivity, with an increasing emphasis on acceptance and natural beauty.
Causes and triggers of Stretch Marks
- Pregnancy – Rapid skin stretching due to growing abdomen.
- Puberty – Growth spurts causing skin stretching.
- Weight Fluctuations – Rapid gain or loss of fat/muscle.
- Medical Conditions – Like Cushing’s Syndrome or prolonged cortisone use.
Treatment Options for Stretch Marks
Treatments aim to improve appearance but can’t completely erase them. Options vary based on the type and stage of stretch marks.
Maintaining a healthy weight can potentially minimise stretch mark severity.
Topical retinoids and over-the-counter options help in collagen production.
Includes microneedling, RF microneedling, CO2 laser resurfacing, and vascular lasers.
Avoid rapid weight changes and wasting money on unproven remedies.
Treatment can improve appearance but complete removal is unlikely.