If you have stretch marks, you’re not alone. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that between 50 percent and 80 percent of people have stretch marks.
Stretch marks can vary in color among people. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the color of your stretch marks depends on the color of your skin. They may appear:
Stretch marks, also called striae, are scars that are associated with the skin being stretched and thinned, which causes the elastic fibers to break.
Typical causes of stretch marks include:
- rapid weight gain or loss
- rapid growth, such as an adolescent growth spurt
- rapid muscle growth, such as a result of weight training
Stretch marks are also associated with long-term application of corticosteroids and with certain health conditions, such as Cushing’s disease and Marfan syndrome.
Darker colored stretch marks, such as purple ones, are typically newer. Without treatment, they’ll usually fade to white or silver over time.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the most common places for stretch marks to appear include the:
Stretch marks don’t typically require medical treatment. They aren’t dangerous, and although they may first appear dark purple or red, they usually fade over time.
If you’re interested in products to improve the appearance of stretch marks, consult your dermatologist or doctor.
Some of the treatments commonly used for stretch marks include:
- Retinoid cream. One example of retinoid cream is tretinoin (Avita, Retin-A, Renova), which is often used on relatively new stretch marks. If you’re pregnant, your doctor will likely recommend alternatives to retinoid creams.
- Microdermabrasion. This minimally invasive procedure exfoliates (removes) the outer layer of skin to allow new and potentially more elastic skin to grow.
- Chemical peel. These treatments, which may include trichloroacetic acid, remove the top layer of skin to promote new skin growth.
- Light and laser therapies. Your dermatologist may suggest one of a variety of light and laser therapies, such as pulsed-dye laser treatment, which can help stimulate elastin or collagen growth in your skin.
According to the Mayo Clinic, although these treatments may help improve the texture and appearance of your stretch marks, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to remove them completely.
No one treatment has been clinically proven to be more successful than any of the others.
There are many products, such as glycolic acid, vitamin E, and cocoa butter, that claim to treat stretch marks of all colors.
While these products are not harmful to the skin, it’s unlikely they’ll completely erase the appearance of stretch marks, the Mayo Clinic says.
Preventing or treating stretch marks by applying lotions, oils, or creams isn’t supported by current research.
Although anyone can get stretch marks, the likelihood increases if:
- you’re female
- your family has a history of stretch marks
- you’re overweight or have obesity
- you’re pregnant
- you experience rapid weight gain or loss
- you use corticosteroid medication
- you have a condition such as Marfan syndrome or Cushing’s syndrome
Although purple stretch marks are physically harmless, they can be a source of significant anxiety and affect your quality of life.
If you have stretch marks, and they make you uncomfortable or affect your self-esteem, talk to your doctor or dermatologist. They can suggest some products or treatment options that may help reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
At this point in time, there’s no treatment that will make your stretch marks completely disappear.