Stretch marks are common, which occur in 50%-80% of the population on different body parts due to various factors. They appear as long streaks and lines on the skin which may be of red, purple, and white colour. New stretch marks are generally purple.
Stretch marks are permanent, like other scars. Their appearance can be improved with treatment. The following article describes the causes, risks, treatment, and home remedies of purple stretch marks.
How do you get purple stretch marks?
Stretch marks are also known as striae in which the skin is stretched and thinned due to which elastic fibres break. They develop when your skin is stretched beyond its capacity. There can be rapid and abrupt changes in the elastin and collagen fibres due to a lot of factors that can stretch the skin. Skin is kept healthy by both elastin and collagen fibres. These fibres damage due to abnormal stretching of the skin. Stretch marks develop when your skin tries to heal itself.
Stretch marks may appear reddish and purple during the early stages. Depending on the skin tone, they may appear pinkish and reddish-brown. When you run your fingers on stretch marks, they can be a bit itchy and feel slightly raised. Purple stretch marks develop on specific parts.
Causes of stretch marks
Some of the causes of stretch marks are:
- Rapid weight gain
- Rapid growth
- Rapid muscle growth, which can be a result of weight training
Long-term application of corticosteroids and certain health conditions such as Cushing’s disease and Marfan syndrome are also associated with stretch marks. Purple coloured stretch marks are typically newer ones. They will fade to white or silver over time without treatment.
Where are you most likely to get stretch marks?
The most common places where stretch marks appear are as follows:
- Lower back
- Upper arm
It is easy to treat early stretch marks as compared to late stretch marks because early stretch marks respond to treatment. The appearance of these marks can be improved and the severity of the marks can be prevented, but we cannot erase them.
Anyone can develop stretch marks, but there are some factors which increase the likelihood of stretch marks, they are as follows:
- If you are a female
- If there is a family history of stretch marks
- If you are obese and overweight
- If you are pregnant especially for younger women
- If you are rapidly gaining and losing weight
- Use of long-term corticosteroids
- If you are undergoing breast enlargement surgery
- Presence of some health-related conditions like Cushing’s syndrome, Marfan syndrome or certain genetic disorders
When to see a doctor
If you are concerned about the appearance of your skin and if they cover large areas of your body, then it is better to consult a doctor. This will help to determine the cause of the stretch marks and the doctor will discuss treatment options.
Treatment of stretch marks
They don’t typically require medical treatment. They aren’t dangerous and they usually fade over time as they may first appear dark purple or red.
You should consult your dermatologist if you are interested to improve the appearance of stretch marks. Some treatment options are as follows:
Tretinoin (Retin-A) is a form of vitamin A which helps to reduce the appearance of early stretch marks. Tretinoin may cause redness, skin irritation, and peeling. You should avoid the use of Tretinoin if you are pregnant, a doctor will recommend an alternative to this.
- Chemical peeling
Chemical peels that may include trichloroacetic acid are applied to the skin to remove the topmost layer and dead skin cells and promote new skin growth. Chemical peels are also used to minimize the appearance of stretch marks. You may need multiple sessions if you prefer this treatment.
This is a minimally invasive procedure in which the outer layer of the skin exfoliates and allows new and potentially more elastic skin to grow.
- Light and laser therapies
It is an effective way to improve the appearance of new stretch marks. Dermatologists suggest pulsed-dye laser treatment, which helps to stimulate elastin and collagen growth in the skin.
These treatments will improve the texture and appearance of the skin but will not remove them completely.
Home remedies to treat stretch marks
There is no evidence which states that home remedies can help to eliminate stretch marks. There can be mild effects of topical remedies. The specific effect of topical creams and ointments is not clear yet.
There is an improvement in stretch marks because of the moisturizing effect of the creams and ointments. So, the best way is to keep your skin well moisturized. For this purpose, plant oils can be used.
Following are some plant oils which help to keep the skin moisturized:
- Almond oil
- Sunflower oil
- Coconut oil
- Sesame oil
- Grape seed oil
- Argan oil
- Jojoba oil
- Shea butter
- Avocado oil
Transepidermal water loss from the skin is prevented by these oils, and they also maintain the integrity of the skin’s natural barrier. The use of hyaluronic acid is also helpful as it stimulates the fibroblast and keeps skin hydrated.
Diet also helps to treat these marks. If you eat a healthy diet, your skin gets enough nutrients and stays healthy. This also helps to avoid weight gain.
Hydrating creams and lotions are also applied to the marks, but the effectiveness of these is not proved yet. These remedies can be used as a preventive measure to minimize the appearance of stretch marks.
Prevention of stretch marks
There are few things which can reduce the risk of developing stretch marks:
- Keep your skin moisturized
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water
- Try to maintain a healthy weight
- Follow a balanced diet
- Exercise regularly to maintain weight
- Work with your doctor if you are pregnant
You may not be able to prevent the development of stretch marks even after trying the suggested remedies and tips. But you should not worry about them because they will eventually fade with time.