What is a stretch mark?
Stretch marks are narrow streaks or lines that can appear on different parts of men's and women's bodies.
They start off a purplish red colour and then gradually lighten to a silvery white. These streaks are, in fact, minuscule furrows caused by a break in the collagen fibres in the dermis. They resemble scars and can be treated if they are recent (still vascularised and in the healing phase).
Stretch marks are caused by two factors:
- Distension of the skin: stretch marks can result from the skin being overstretched when you put on a lot of weight rapidly. The pull on the tissues causes some of the elastic fibres in the dermis to break. This is accompanied by a loss of skin elasticity.
- An increase in the amount of cortisol in the body: their appearance can also be due to an increase in the body’s cortisol secretion. This hormone, produced by the adrenal glands, has an effect on the skin’s structure: when the level of cortisol rises, less collagen and elastin are produced. This changes the structure of the dermis and the skin loses elasticity.
These two factors are often but not always related. However, stretch marks can also appear in slim people whose weight does not vary. They have been closely linked to hormonal activity.