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What are stretch marks?

Image by Joey Thompson

Stretch marks are also known as striae distensea.  There are different types of stretch marks. The two main types being striae rubrae/striae rubra and striae albae /striae alba. When they appear in pregnant women they are known as striae gravidarum.

Stretch marks are dermal scars which are caused by stretching of the skin. It has been suggested that stretch marks occur when there is loss of cross linkage between collagen fibers in the dermis of the skin. They are also associated with rearrangement and reduction of elastin and fibrillin.
When there is rapid growth or stretch and limited stretch due to the changes in connective tissues it can lead to intradermal tears which present themselves as stretch marks.

Striae rubrae is the initial acute stage of stretch marks.

  • The stretch marks are aligned in a linear direction. 
  • They can appear red.
  • They may be stretched flat or raised.

Striae albae is the chronic  latter stage.

  • The stretch marks are decreased in size.
  • They can appear hypopigmented (lighter in colour)
  • They can appear wrinkled.

Products for stretch marks 


  • Stretch marks and treatment efficacies. (2012). Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 66(4), AB29-AB29. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2011.11.130
  • Kurokawa, J.u.d.i.t.h. (2000). The relationship of abdominal striae to perineal integrity. Quantitative Research Proposal, , . Retrieved from http://www.instituteofmidwifery.org/MSFinalProj.nsf/a9ee58d7a82396768525684f0056be8d/921c67d3d32c7dc38525684f005a4d0d?OpenDocument.
  • Osman, H., Rubeiz, N., Tamim, H., & Nassar, A.H. (2007). Risk factors for the development of striae gravidarum. Am J Obstet Gynecol, 196 (1), 62.e1-62.e5.
  • Ud‐Din, S., McGeorge, D., & Bayat, A. (2016;2015;). Topical management of striae distensae (stretch marks): Prevention and therapy of striae rubrae and albae. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology,30(2), 211-222. doi:10.1111/jdv.13223

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