Stretch marks, also called striae, are a form of scarring that can appear in a number of ways; as red, pink or purple streaks that fade to white or silver, or as a series of indented lines. They are usually found on the stomach, thighs, hips, breasts, upper arms or shoulders.
Although more usually found on women, particularly during pregnancy, they can affect anyone whose body has gone through rapid changes. They are commonly experienced during puberty and the growth spurts experienced in adolescence, and body builders sometimes get them on their shoulders and chest with increased muscle gain.
Stretch marks are caused by a tearing of the dermis, the middle layer of skin consisting mostly of the proteins collagen, elastin and fibrillin that give the skin its strength and flexibility. They can also be caused by the hormonal changes that are associated with rapid weight gain.
Other causes of stretch marks can be the use of certain medications, such as oral corticosteroids or topical steroids, or medical conditions such as adrenal gland disease. If you notice an excessive number of stretch marks appearing on your skin, we recommend visiting your GP for a possible diagnosis.