Stretch marks typically appear as bands of parallel lines on your skin. These lines are a different color and texture than your normal skin, and they range from purple to bright pink to light gray. When you touch stretch marks with your fingers, you might feel a slight ridge or indentation on your skin. Sometimes, stretch marks feel itchy or sore.
These lines commonly appear during or after pregnancy or after a sudden change in your weight. They also tend to occur in adolescents who are rapidly growing. Stretch marks aren’t dangerous, and they often disappear over time.
You can have stretch marks just about anywhere, but they’re most common on your stomach, breasts, upper arms, thighs, and buttocks.
Stretch marks are a result of skin stretching and an increase of cortisone in your system. Cortisone is a hormone naturally produced by your adrenal glands. However, having too much of this hormone can make your skin lose its elasticity.
Stretch marks are common in certain circumstances:
- Many women experience stretch marks during pregnancy as the skin stretches in numerous ways to make room for the developing baby. This continual tugging and stretching can cause stretch marks.
- Stretch marks sometimes appear when you rapidly gain or lose weight. Teenagers may also notice stretch marks after a sudden growth spurt.
- Corticosteroid creams, lotions, and pills can cause stretch marks by decreasing the skin’s ability to stretch.
- Cushing’s syndrome, Marfan’s syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and other adrenal gland disorders can cause stretch marks by increasing the amount of cortisone in your body.
The following put you at greater risk for developing stretch marks:
- being a woman
- being a white person (having pale skin)
- having a family history of stretch marks
- being pregnant
- having a history of delivering large babies or twins
- being overweight
- having dramatic weight loss or gain
- using corticosteroid medications
There’s no way to prevent stretch marks completely, even if you regularly use lotions and creams. However, keeping your weight in a healthy range by eating well and exercising regularly can help to prevent stretch marks caused by sudden weight gain or loss.