Why Do I Have Stretch Marks on My Knees?

Medically reviewed by Catherine Hannan, MD on December 1, 2017Written by Kristeen Cherney

What are stretch marks?

Stretch marks, also called striae, develop when your skin stretches at a rapid rate. This results in white, pink, or red lines that cover the affected area. While they’re most common on your stomach, hips, and thighs, they can also appear on your knees.

While stretch marks aren’t harmful, they can make you feel self-conscious. Keep reading to learn more about what causes stretch marks on your knees and how you can make them less visible.

What do knee stretch marks look like?

Stretch marks on your knees tend to be pink or red when they first appear, though they can also be purple. They look like thin lines on top of your skin and can be anywhere from 1 to 10 millimeters wide. You might notice them on the front, back, or sides of your knees.

Over time, stretch marks fade in color, becoming white or very light pink.

What causes them?

Stretch marks around the knees are linked to several causes. Some of these causes are natural, while others may require medical attention. You’re also more likely to develop these types of stretch marks if you’re female or have other family members with stretch marks, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology.

Growth

Periods of rapid growth are one of the most common causes of knee stretch marks. For example, stretch marks commonly appear during puberty, when your body goes through periods of rapid growth and change.

Sudden weight gain can also cause knee stretch marks, especially if you tend to carry weight in your legs. You may also notice stretch marks on your thighs. Stretch marks caused by weight gain tend to go away when you lose weight, but they can stick around for several months.

Body builders are also more prone to developing knee stretch marks, especially if their training focuses on their legs.

Corticosteroids

Oral and topical corticosteroids can also cause stretch marks. These are often used to reduce inflammation. Compared to stretch marks from other causes, those caused by corticosteroids tend to be more purple in color.

Hydrocortisone is a popular topical corticosteroid that’s available without a prescription. It’s used to relieve redness, itching, and swelling. When used for long periods of time, hydrocortisone causes your skin to thin out and stretch. Using it on your knees occasionally to treat a bug bite won’t cause stretch marks, but if you use it for several weeks at a time, you may notice some stretch marks.

Medical conditions

There are several medical conditions that can also cause stretch marks. These conditions usually affect your joints, including your knees, or your endocrine system, which is responsible for growth.

Conditions that might cause knee stretch marks include:

How are they treated?

There’s no proven way of completely getting rid of stretch marks. However, there are a few things you can do to make them fade and become less visible.

Consider using the following to help your stretch marks fade faster:

  • chemical peels
  • cocoa butter
  • home remedies, such as coconut oil
  • laser therapy
  • retinoid creams
  • creams containing vitamin E
  • dermarolling

Stretch marks that occur from growth spurts during puberty usually fade on their own over time.

Can I prevent them?

There’s no way to completely prevent stretch marks on your knees or other body parts. However, you can reduce your risk of developing them by managing your weight and limiting your use of corticosteroids. If you’re working to strengthen your legs, try to avoid building muscle too quickly. Discover other ways to reduce your risk of developing stretch marks.

The bottom line

Stretch marks themselves are a harmless condition usually caused by periods of rapid growth or weight gain. As your skin starts to return to its normal state, stretch marks usually fade on their own. While they may never go away completely, there are several things you can do to make them less visible.

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