What are stretch marks (white, red), how are they formed? How to remove them?

What are stretch marks (white, red), how are they formed? How to remove them?
Photo source: Getty images

Stretch marks - small and larger blood red, burgundy, but also blue, purple and pale transverse stripes of skin. They are often not a symptom of disease, rather an aesthetic and cosmetic problem.

Stretch marks are smaller or larger blood red to burgundy or also blue, purple and pale to white transverse stripes of skin.

Who doesn't know them?

Cosmetically and aesthetically, they affect the psyche of women. Especially those who present their appearance at work. They can be a source of dissatisfaction, even negative emotions and anxiety.

What are stretch marks, how and why do they form?
How to get rid of them?
And can they be removed completely?
Read with us...

The skin as the largest organ of the body has several functions. It is perfectly adapted to them.

But sometimes the elasticity and flexibility is not enough to adapt to the actual and sudden changes. And that is when it is highly susceptible to the formation of stretch marks.

Most of the time, it happens during the growth period. That's why they can be observed even at a relatively young age. The approximate age limit is 5 years and above.

Subsequently, puberty is an important period. Hormonal changes, growth and weight gain, breast enlargement in girls. All these factors can contribute to their formation.

Stretch marks can occur from the age of 5 until the age of 50.

Why? It is in this range that the greatest fluctuations in weight and volume of different parts occur. Hormonal changes also contribute to this, especially in women.

In addition, pregnancy is significant in women.

How are men?

The male sex is not exempt from stretch marks either. However, men are characterised by slightly different factors of formation.

What are stretch marks and why do they form?

Stretch marks are essentially tiny scars. The scar-like changes involve the lower layer of the skin, more specifically the subcutaneous layer, which is also referred to as the dermis.

The dermis is a layer of skin and is located under the skin.

In addition to being richly supplied with blood, this area is made up of connective tissue. And in it, mainly collagen and elastic fibres play a significant role.

In addition, this composition also guarantees the skin's elasticity and flexibility. This provides it with sufficient and substantial mechanical resistance.

The skin is able to adapt to a certain extent on the basis of these properties, but the problem arises if these changes proceed too quickly.

The subcutaneous tissue does not stretch, becomes taut, literally tears.

The result is stretch marks.

In addition to too rapid growth and weight gain and bulking, other factors are also involved.

Exactly why stretch marks form is not explained.

However, a disorder of the connective tissue, and therefore of the collagen and elastic fibres, plays a role.

The connective tissue disorder is also related to the predisposition to pelvic organ prolapse in women (bladder and vagina/pelvis).

Stretch marks have a multifactorial basis. Several factors are involved in their formation.

The factors involved in the development of stretch marks are:

  • change in the structure of the dermis and connective tissue (fibrillin, elastin, fibrinoectin, collagen)
  • genetic predisposition
  • certain family history
  • mechanical tension and mechanical stress
  • hormonal changes, including changes in corticoid levels
  • use of corticosteroids - topical and systemic treatment
  • overweight and obesity, weight gain, high BMI
  • growth, especially periods of rapid growth, puberty
  • rapid weight loss
  • pregnancy

Do you know your BMI?
Calculate your BMI using the BMI calculator.
Read also article: BMI: How to calculate body mass index?

Can they indicate disease?

We think less about this cause, but yes.

Stretch marks can be a sign of certain diseases.

And this is mainly the case of a decrease in skin elasticity, which occurs because of excessive levels of cortisol.

Cortisol is a steroid hormone, a glucocorticoid to be precise. It is produced in the adrenal cortex. It is important in stress reactions, infectious diseases or the regulation of sugar, fat and protein metabolism.

It is the most important stress hormone.

It affects the cardiovascular system, heart function and increases blood pressure.

It has a dampening effect on inflammatory processes (anti-inflammatory effect), the immune system, bone metabolism.

An example of diseases that are associated with an excess level of this hormone is hypercortisolism, or also Cushing's syndrome.

More about the disease in the article.


We can induce elevated corticosteroid levels with medication.

Drugs with an active substance are applied locally or systemically (tablets, injections). Topically, various creams, lotions are used.

An association with antiretroviral protease inhibitors (indinavir) is described.

Other diseases with possible occurrence of stretch marks:

  • other adrenal diseases
  • Marfan syndrome - a genetic disorder
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome - congenital connective tissue disease
  • diseases with corticosteroid treatment

Stretch marks in pregnancy

Professionally referred to as striae gravidarum, striae distensae gravidarum.

They manifest hormonal changes that result in an increase in weight and volume of certain body parts.

The predilection (susceptible) areas are the breasts, shoulders, abdomen, pelvis, hips, buttocks and thighs.

Weight gain above 15 kg is stated to be the highest risk for stretch mark formation.
Plus high birth weight of the newborn.

The gains are most pronounced in the third trimester. There is also the most pronounced change in the breasts during lactation (breast milk production).

It is reported that their formation is most common in women in their first pregnancy.

They affect up to 90% of pregnant women.


Stretch marks are mainly found in areas of the body such as: breasts, abdomen, hips, buttocks, thighs, on the back (lumbosacral or lumbosacral area).

In girls and women, they occur mainly during growth, puberty and pregnancy, in areas of the body such as the breasts, but also in the abdomen, hips or thighs.

In men, and often especially in bodybuilders, in the biceps or on the back and outer thighs.

What do they look like?

They are usually numerous, symmetrical lines a few millimetres to centimetres wide.

In the early stages, the stretch marks are smooth, slightly raised and longitudinal. The lines and edges are irregular but clearly distinguishable from the surrounding skin.

On the surface they are visible as irritated and bloody stripes. They are red, pink or bluish-purple in colour.

They are also known as striae rubrae - red stretch marks.

They fade over time, over a period of months to years. The pale to white ones are less visible on the surface of the skin, but they are still visible.

Striae albae - pale stretch marks.

The pale colour is due to the fact that functional tissue replaces the connective tissue of the scar. This does not contain pigment.

Hypopigmented striae.

The skin in the affected area may itch or burn. Alternatively, the person describes other vague and unpleasant sensations.

Unless it is a symptom of a listed disease, it is an aesthetic and cosmetic problem that usually does not indicate a serious health problem.

Exceptionally, it may be complicated.

When, you ask.

If the stretch mark is very large, there is a risk of damage to the top layer of the skin. The formation of a defect and ulceration (superficial ulcer) is associated with the risk of bacterial infection and impaired progression and healing.

In addition, they are not aesthetic and form a significant cosmetic problem. Especially in girls and women whose job requires flawless beauty.

Therefore, they can often be a source of dissatisfaction and emotional distress, even anxiety and depression.

What will help with stretch marks? How to get rid of them and treat them?

Treatment is difficult. Why?

Stretch marks cannot be completely removed. They can be "softened" and fade over time.

Another common question is, can they be prevented?

No, they cannot be completely prevented. Their formation is multifactorial. People, girls and women with a family history of stretch marks should rather think of measures that can at least partially help or reduce their formation and extent.

In prevention, measures such as:

  • Avoiding weight gain and weight gain by leaps and bounds
  • taking a slower approach to weight loss
  • skin care, moisturizers and stretch mark products (they won't completely reduce the risk of stretch marks, but they will help)
  • adjusting your diet and eating a rational diet
  • sufficient drinking

Then, when they occur, remember: treatment should start as soon as possible.

In particular, aim for:

  • start the formation of collagen and fibrin fibres and cell renewal
  • reducing vascularisation (blood flow) of skin lesions
  • reduction of wrinkles and skin irregularities
  • increasing pigmentation
  • improving skin elasticity and blood circulation
  • hydration of the skin
  • anti-inflammatory processes

Products containing collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid, ascorbic acid, tropholastin and other products containing oils such as cocoa, almond, coconut, olive, castor are used.

Not quite. It will help and soften them, but it won't remove them.

Direct treatments include laser, pulsed laser therapy, excimer laser, fractional photothermolysis, light therapy, radiofrequency ablation, microdermabrasion, galvanopuncture, carboxytherapy, chemical peels, and other and surgical procedures.

However, beware, it also does not guarantee complete elimination of the problem.
+ Do not scrape. You will damage your skin.

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