Different Types of Stretch Marks

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There are numerous medical terms that are associated with stretch marks and thus, depending on the cause of the stretch mark, different scars may develop. The common medical term for stretch marks is striae and this is used by various medical practitioners. The development of stretch marks will not pose a threat to your health as they are harmless and the only issue most people have with their presence is the aesthetic appearance of them.


The general term for stretch marks is striae and this encompasses all forms of stretch marks. They are usually a pink/purple colour when they first appear but this will gradually fade over time as the burst blood vessels repair themselves. The colour of old striae is a silvery colour and these are much less noticeable than the red stretch marks. They usually appear on your arms, thighs and buttocks and the most common cause is pregnancy with approximately 90% of pregnant women subject to this condition.

Striae atrophica

This form of stretch marks are also common and are due to the wasting away of certain components of the skin. Skin is designed to be very flexible and it owes it elasticity to a protein called elastin. If this is degraded in the skin for various reasons, when the skin is stretched it cannot bounce back to its original position and this can lead to tears in the skin. Essentially these tears are the stretch marks, which will appear red at first but slowly fade over time. Striae atrophica are usually caused by rapid weight gain or loss or corticosteroid treatment.

Striae distensae

Stretch marks commonly form during puberty because the body experiences rapid growth spurts and weight fluctuations. These are called striae distensae and they form linear lines in the common areas of the body such as the thighs, buttocks, abdomen and back. This form of stretch mark is also common amongst pregnant women.

Striae gravidarum

Striae gravidarum are the type of stretch marks that are specific to pregnancy. They are exactly the same as normal striae but their sole cause is pregnancy and thus they are called gravidarum. They appear on the buttocks, thighs, abdomen and sometimes the breasts. Around 90% of pregnant women experience striae gravidarum and they are more likely to occur in the third trimester because the hormones released at this stage of pregnancy affect the stability of the skin and make it more likely to tear.


Essentially vergetures are the same as striae except they have a specific pattern in which they occur. They tend to appear in long lines that resemble the lashings of a whip and hence are called vergetures. They are the product of pregnancy and puberty and many males tend to notice these stretch marks upon their backs. Vergetures are a deep red but will eventually fade to white like most stretch marks.

Other forms of stretch marks

Stretch marks caused by certain medical conditions or treatments are generally classified as Striae. They do not have a specific class but are regarded as normal stretch marks that do not have a distinct pattern. The causes of these stretch marks vary from steroid therapy to Cushing’s syndrome.

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