Stretch Marks

Skin Problems Image Gallery Stretch marks can appear any time that your body undergoes rapid change, including pregnancy. See more pictures of skin problems.

While you can appreciate the beauty of the colors pink, purple and red, you don't necessarily want to wear them on your skin. Unfortunately, those deep, bright hues may become part of you in the form of stretch marks at some point in your life.

Stretch marks are often associated with pregnancy, which is why they are more common in women, but they can appear whenever your body is going through rapid changes, such as during puberty or times of great weight loss or gain.

Also called striae, stretch marks form in the dermis, or middle layer of skin. Stretch marks are often misunderstood. In fact, they have very little to do with skin actually "stretching." No one knows exactly what causes them, although some doctors believe they appear because of the hormones associated with certain changes in our bodies [source: Robertson]. Some people get stretch marks, while others don't. If someone in your family has had them, chances are you may experience the same fate.

If stretch marks started to appear when you were young, there is some hope. They can go away after puberty. Of course, the bad news is that if you got them as an adult, they're probably not going anywhere. The bright side in all of this is that stretch marks don't cause health problems. In time, they can fade, and there are treatments to help them along. There also are things that you can do to either avoid them or make them less severe.

If you have stretch marks or fear that they will soon become a reality in your life, this article is a good start. You'll learn more about what causes stretch marks, what you can do about them and how effective treatment can be.