Stretch Marks, also known as Striae, are a type of scars on the skin that form when the skin stretches. They appear as multiple lines on the skin and are different in colour and texture compared to normal skin. Stretch Marks may appear as purple, bright pink, or lighter than the surrounding skin colour. The marks can appear slightly raised above the skin.
Stretch Marks are not a medical emergency.
The primary cause of Stretch Marks is the stretching of the skin. Stretching of the skin can happen:
The other reason for the development of Stretch Marks is an increase in cortisone hormone levels. Cortisone is a hormone produced by adrenal glands (glands that are present above the kidneys). Increased level of cortisone hormones leads to loss of skin elasticity by weakening the elastic fibres in the skin. Loss of skin elasticity leads to the development of Stretch Marks.
Certain factors can increase the risk of developing Stretch Marks:
Stretch Marks appear as zigzag lines or streaks on the skin, especially on the stomach, breasts, hips, and buttocks. Initially, they may be red, purple, pink, reddish-brown, or dark brown. Over time, the colour fades away and they appear lighter than the skin colour. They appear as raised lines on the skin and sometimes are itchy. Streaks cover most of the area on the skin.
No specific diagnostic test is required to confirm the presence of the Stretch Marks. Diagnosis of Stretch Marks is made by physical examination of the skin and reviewing the past medical history and family history of an individual. If there is a suspicion that Stretch Marks might be a result of any other underlying illness, blood, urine, and some imaging tests are performed.
No specific self-care or therapy is required to treat Stretch Marks. They fade away over time; however, they do not disappear completely. Treatment for Stretch Marks is available only to improve the appearance of the Stretch Marks.
Treatment also helps to alleviate itching if present.
A cosmetic procedure like chemical peels, laser therapy, or micro-needling can help to treat Stretch Marks. These therapies help to generate new collagen growth and improve the elasticity function of the skin. The outer layer of the skin is removed and a new smoother, firmer, and toned skin is formed.
There are no specific ways to prevent Stretch Marks. Stretch Marks caused due to pregnancy cannot be prevented. However, some measures can be followed to maintain good skin:
Except for affecting the cosmetic appearance of the skin, Stretch Marks does not lead to any type of complications.
Stretch Marks are permanent. There are no effective treatments available to cure Stretch Marks completely, and preventing them is also difficult. Nonetheless, Stretch Marks are not considered to be a serious skin condition or disease. They fade to become less noticeable with time.
Usually, Stretch Marks are not of serious concern. They are not painful or harmful. However, medical consultation is necessary if they are affecting the appearance of the skin.
Treatment of Stretch Marks does not require any hospitalizations. Light or laser therapies or other cosmetic procedures that are performed in the treatment of Stretch Marks can also be performed on an outpatient basis.