Stretch marks are visible blemishes that can develop anywhere on a person’s skin. They usually occur when the skin has been stretched because of pregnancy, weight gain or any other reason. Stretch marks affect people of all ages and genders; however, they most particularly affect pregnant mothers.
The blemishes are most commonly referred to, by both doctors and patients, as “stretch marks”. However, there are several, much more technical, names that refer to this condition. Dermatologists most often refer to stretch marks as “singular stria” or “striae”. Other medical names for this condition include stria destensae, vergetures, lineae atrophicae, and linea albicante. Striae gravidarum is the term that refers to the stretch marks that pregnant women develop.
Stretch marks are thin, wavy lines of any length that appear on a person’s skin. When the marks first appear, they will often be dark red or even purple. The color usually fades with time; in fact, stretch marks can eventually fade to the extent that they only have a slight difference in pigmentation from the rest of the skin.
Although the marks can occur anywhere on a person’s body, they most often develop in places that store excess fat and, particularly in girls, in places that mature at puberty. Common areas include the thighs, hips, and upper arms. They can also occur on the buttocks and around the knees. Stretch marks will often appear around the breasts of maturing girls. Pregnant women are almost guaranteed to develop abdomen stretch marks (medically known as striae gravidarum) by the beginning of their third trimester.