Stretch Marks

What Causes Stretch Marks?

Not everyone finds stretch marks attractive. They may look like red, pink or purple streaks. They might show up as indented lines, or they can appear as bright streaks that fade to light pink, white, silver or gray. These colorful marks most commonly end up on several areas, including the stomach, thighs, hips, breasts, upper arms, lower back or shoulders.

Stretch marks often accompany a change in your body. Many pregnant women, for instance, develop stretch marks. Pubescent girls sometimes get them on their newly growing breasts. They can occur elsewhere in both girls and boys during puberty. If you've shed some extra pounds and tightened and toned your body, you may also see stretch marks. Bodybuilders sometimes get them on their shoulders from rapid muscle mass gain.

An excessive number of stretch marks can also indicate that something's wrong. They might appear when you gain weight, take oral corticosteroids, use topical steroids, or have adrenal gland disease, Cushing's disease, or one of several rare genetic disorders. If you start seeing widespread stretch marks on your body, see a doctor for a possible diagnosis [source: Kantor].

It seems fairly obvious that stretch marks, as the name implies, occur when the skin is stretched out. But some doctors suggest that they are caused by the hormonal changes our bodies experience during weight gain. This happens most often during pregnancy and the teen years, but it can also occur in obese people and weight lifters, in whom rapid weight gain is common. The marks usually occur when the body is producing extra cortisone, which is why people using corticosteroids, a medication related to cortisone, are susceptible.

If you have stretch marks and want to know how to get rid of them, read on.