This patient information and photograph on Stretch Marks (Striae) is provided by John L. Meisenheimer, M.D. a board certified Dermatologist and skin care specialist based in Orlando, Florida. This information is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice or treatment of a dermatologist or other physician.
What is it? Stretch marks also known as striae is a relatively commonly acquired condition
of the skin. Stretch marks appear as thin parallel bands of discoloration on the skin. Often beginning as bright red or deep purple they gradually fade to atrophic white bands which are permanent. Although there may be some associated itching, largely they are asymptomatic. They commonly develop on the abdomen and breasts of pregnant women, thighs and shoulders of growing adolescents, weight lifters, and individuals that have used fluorinated steroid creams in the groin or armpit areas.
What causes it? Striae are formed by rapid stretching of the skin. When rapid stretching of the skin occurs the collagen fibers in the dermis are torn causing dermal tissue damage resulting in the formation of striae.
Is it dangerous? For the typical healthy person Striae formation is a harmless disorder. It is not related to cancer and it does not involve internal organs.
Can it be cured? Some people improve with treatment, others do not. Treatment to help prevent Striae formation is somewhat questionable. There is some loose evidence that certain extracts from the Gotu Kola plant applied to the skin may be of some benefit. You can try these Stretch Mark Lotions.
Once the striae are formed there is not any treatment that can make them disappear completely. I do offer laser treatments for Striae. Although I cannot clear them completely we can usually offer some improvement.
Will it spread? Once formed striae do not spread. You can get more if more stretching occurs.
Is it contagious? Striae are not contagious and you can not "catch it" from anyone.