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Striae Distensae

  • Author: Samer Alaiti, MD, RVT, RPVI, FACP; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
Updated: Mar 23, 2016


Striae distensae, a common skin condition, do not cause any significant medical problem; however, striae can be of significant distress to those affected. They represent linear dermal scars accompanied by epidermal atrophy.

See the image below.

Striae distensae in pregnancy. Baby is due in less Striae distensae in pregnancy. Baby is due in less than 2 weeks. Courtesy of Patrick Fitzgerald and Wikimedia Commons.


Striae distensae affect skin that is subjected to continuous and progressive stretching; increased stress is placed on the connective tissue due to increased size of the various parts of the body. It occurs on the abdomen and the breasts of pregnant women, on the shoulders of body builders, in adolescents undergoing their growth spurt, and in individuals who are overweight.

Factors leading to the development of striae have not been fully elucidated. Striae distensae are a reflection of "breaks" in the connective tissue. Skin distension may lead to excessive mast cell degranulation with subsequent damage of collagen and elastin.[1] Prolonged use of oral or topical corticosteroids or Cushing syndrome (increased adrenal cortical activity) leads to the development of striae. Genetic factors could certainly play a role, although this is not fully understood.

In a letter to the editor of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, Tung et al conducted genome-wide association analysis and found evidence that implicates elastic microfibrils in the development of nonsyndromic striae distensae.[2]




Approximately 90% of pregnant women, 70% of adolescent females, and 40% of adolescent males (many of whom participate in sports) have stretch marks.


Stretch marks affect persons of all races.


Striae affect women more commonly than men.


Stretch marks affect adolescents, pregnant women, and patients with excessive adrenal cortical activity.



Striae distensae are usually a cosmetic problem; however, if extensive, they may tear and ulcerate when an accident or excessive stretching occurs.

Adolescents with striae can expect their striae to be less visible with time.

Treatment with tretinoin, flashlamp pulsed dye laser, and chemical peels significantly improves the clinical appearance of early, active stretch marks.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Samer Alaiti, MD, RVT, RPVI, FACP Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California; Medical Director, Miracle Mile Medical Center for Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, Inc

Samer Alaiti, MD, RVT, RPVI, FACP is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American College of Phlebology, American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Steven R Feldman, MD, PhD Professor, Departments of Dermatology, Pathology and Public Health Sciences, and Molecular Medicine and Translational Science, Wake Forest Baptist Health; Director, Center for Dermatology Research, Director of Industry Relations, Department of Dermatology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine

Steven R Feldman, MD, PhD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American Society of Dermatopathology, North Carolina Medical Society, Society for Investigative Dermatology

Disclosure: Received honoraria from Amgen for consulting; Received honoraria from Abbvie for consulting; Received honoraria from Galderma for speaking and teaching; Received consulting fee from Lilly for consulting; Received ownership interest from for management position; Received ownership interest from Causa Reseasrch for management position; Received grant/research funds from Janssen for consulting; Received honoraria from Pfizer for speaking and teaching; Received consulting fee from No.

Chief Editor

William D James, MD Paul R Gross Professor of Dermatology, Vice-Chairman, Residency Program Director, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

William D James, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, Society for Investigative Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Arash Taheri, MD Research Fellow, Center for Dermatology Research, Department of Dermatology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Striae distensae on the torso of a 13-year-old boy. One-day duration. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Female torso with striae distensae from pregnancy. Courtesy of Parenting Patch and Wikimedia Commons.
Striae distensae in pregnancy. Baby is due in less than 2 weeks. Courtesy of Patrick Fitzgerald and Wikimedia Commons.
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