Stretch marks or striae are a form of scarring on the body, particularly women that occur due to tearing of dermis.

Stretch marks are often a result of rapid and excessive stretching of the skin that is associated with the growth in mass of the body, which is commonly seen during puberty or due to weight gain as seen during pregnancy.

The human skin is made up of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and subcutis.

Stretch marks that occur on the dermis layer, the resilient middle layer that helps the skin retain its shape.

The dermis layers sometimes tears and loses elasticity, resulting in discolored scarring of the skin, or a stretch mark.

The marks can appear anywhere on the body but can most commonly be observed on abdomen, thighs, buttocks, breast and upper arm, where a large number of fats is stored.

The glucocorticoid hormone is also responsible for the development of stretch marks by causing damage to the epidermis by preventing the fibroblasts from forming collagen and elastin fibers, which are important to keep the rapidly growing skin intact.

This condition creates a lack of supportive material, as the skin is stretched and leads to epidermal tearing.

Stretch marks can happen to both men and women.

Though usually, women are most afflicted by it due to pregnancy, men also often do suffer from this problem, in case of weight gain, weight loss, and growth spurts.

Read: Why we get Stretch Marks>

Many teenagers get stretch marks due to these factors.

Studies suggest that as many as, 70% of girls and 40% boys are affected by the stretch marks during their adolescence.

What are Red Stretch Marks?

Red stretch marks are marks which appear on the skin at initial stages when it is distressed. They are also sometimes called purple marks.

So, it becomes somewhat red or purplish in color. In due time, and depending on the skin type and color, these then fade to off-white or silvery color.

The stretch marks are early because they are red in color. These are typically less than a year old.

They are easier to treat because the skin is still in the process of trying to heal.

Red colored stretch marks are medicinally known as striae rubra.

The red stretch marks have a wrinkled and crinkled strip like appearance and are often raised.

Over the time, the red marks turn to brown dusky or purple color and finally turns to white stripes.

What are White Stretch Marks?

The stretch marks which lack pigments or hypo-pigmented appear to be as white or silver stretch marks. They are also known as matured stretch marks. These are medically known as striae distensae alba.

This stage when stretch marks mature and turn white indicates that collagen bundles mix with abnormally thin elastin fibers but are unable to fully realign themselves. Normal elastin fibers are still absent.

This transition from red to white marks is due to the eventual the contraction of the blood vessels, leaving only the fats under the skin visible which makes the red marks fade away to white color.

Difference between Red and White Stretch Marks

The key difference between the red and the white stretch marks is that red stretch marks are “young” or “immature” stretch marks while the red ones are “old” or “mature” stretch marks.

Here are some more differences explained –

  • Red stretch marks are medically known as, striae rubra whereas white stretch marks are medically known as striae distensae alba.
  • Red stretch marks indicate the immature or the initial form of stretch marks, whereas white marks indicate the matured form of stretch marks.
  • Red stretch marks occur normally during puberty and pregnancy, whereas the white marks occur due to collagen remodeling and inflammation, which leads to hypo-pigmentation.

Difference Between White and Red Stretch Marks

How treatment of Red and White Stretch Marks differ?

Most types of stretch marks usually fade with time, but there is no evidence that they can disappear entirely.

Pharmaceutical companies and the people in the medical field recommend various oils, creams to prevent the stretch marks from coming.

The observed treatment for the diminishing effect of stretch marks can also be seen with laser treatments or chemical peels.

These procedures fade away the visibility of stretch marks by making the skin supple, encouraging healthy cell turn over and stimulating the collagen growth so that the scar tissue eventually goes away.

The treatment for red stretch marks differs from that of white stretch marks in a way that, red stretch marks are not yet mature.

So they need a treatment, by which the damage to the dermis can be limited.

Whereas white stretch marks treatment includes medication by which their appearance can be improved.

Options for treating Red Stretch Marks

1. Mederma

This cream is preferably advised for red stretch marks and has to be applied 3 to 4 times a day, for six to twelve months.

This cream has shown good results for treating red, raised stretch marks. It is safe to use while pregnancy and nursing.

The cream has natural ingredients, it uses the onion-juice extract as the active ingredient.

Read More about Mederma here>

2. L- ascorbic acid

This is one of the active ingredients in creams such as cellex-C and skin ceuticals. Apply a 15-20% serum daily for six to twelve months.

L-ascorbic acid helps to stimulate fibroblasts to produce collagen and elastin fibers, which help in preventing stretch marks.

3. Retin-A or Tazorac cream ( 0.1% tretinoin)

This is to be applied at night for twelve months. This is the prescribed option, but a non-prescribed option is skin- ceuticals 1% retinol.

Retinoids have long been suspected of stimulating fibroblasts activity.. In addition, exfoliation will occur, helping create a more uniform surface.

This medication is advised to be avoided during pregnancy and nursing.

Options of Treatment for White Stretch Marks

1. Glycolic acid and Vitamin A creams

20% buffered Glycolic acid is one of the important ingredients in a cream called M.D. Forte is an ideal cream for white stretch marks, with a minimum amount of irritation.

Vitamin A cream should be applied in combination with it but at night, such that the face should be washed and the cream should be applied 30 minutes after, until the face is dry.

Both glycolic acid and vitamin creams can cause an increase in photosensitivity, so a sunscreen of SPF 30 should be used in combination with it.

For maximum results, glycolic acid cream should be applied in the morning, whereas the vitamin A cream should be applied at night.

2. Microdermabrasion

this is a helpful technique for stubborn, old white stretch marks.

In this procedure of microdermabrasion, the tiny particles are sandblasted against the skin, gradually removing scarred epithelial tissue.

Typically, this procedure is done in a series of six or more treatments.

Read more about microdermabrasion for stretch marks here.

3. Non-ablative lasers

one more treatment for the old white stretch marks is non- ablative lasers. Lasers of this type do not burn the skin, as in ablative lasers.

This procedure involves stimulating fibroblasts, which produce collagen fibres.

4. The XTRAC laser

This laser helps restore the skin color and pigmentation. For stretch marks of white color, re-pigmentation is possible with this laser technique.

Summary

Stretch marks or striae are the lines or stripes on the body, generally occurring at the regions where a large number of fats is stored.

The stretch marks initially begin as red marks on the body, which is crinkled but later mature to white stretch marks, which have a silvery outline.

The initial stretch marks, medically known as striae rubra, are raised and often give a scar-like appearance.

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