Why Are My Stretch Marks Purple? – 7 Facts To Know

Stretch marks are narrow bands on your skin that tend to be red, purple, pink, reddishbrown, or dark brown when they first appear, depending on your skin complexion. People are most likely to get stretch marks during pregnancy, puberty, rapid weight loss or gain, and weight training when one has rapid muscle growth.

1. What are Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks, also known as striae distensae, are scars that develop on one’s skin when the skin stretches or shrinks quickly. This abrupt stretching or shrinking of skin causes collagen and elastin, to rupture. Collagen is responsible for tensile strength whereas elastin is responsible for providing elasticity to your skin. As your skin heals from stretching or shrinking, stretch marks may appear on those areas.

2. What are the causes of stretch marks?

Stretch marks could develop due to various causes. The causes of strie distensae are as follows:

2.1. Rapid Growth or Weight Gain

Rapid growth or weight gain is one of the primary causes of stretch marks on the body. In case of growth spurts during puberty, or rapid growth during pregnancy, your skin stretches beyond its natural elasticity, forming stress marks or striae distensae. The stretching could occur in various parts of your body, including your thighs, hips, breasts, and abdomen.

2.2. Hormonal Changes

Hormonal fluctuations also play a role in the development of stretch marks. During processes like puberty, pregnancy and hormonal therapy, hormonal changes occur, causing your skin to stretch beyond its natural elasticity. That, in turn, leads to the formation of stretch marks on the skin. Also, a hormone cortisol, which is released by our body as a response to stress can also weaken the collagen fibres present in your skin, contributing to the formation of stretch marks.

2.3. Genetics

You are more likely to develop stretch marks if you have a family history of stretch marks. Certain people are more susceptible to developing stretch marks due to some factors such as their skin colour, skin elasticity, and collagen production. Thus, if your family or close relatives have stretch marks, you are also at more risk of developing strie distensae.

2.4. Use of Corticosteroids

If you are into prolonged or excessive use of corticosteroid medications, know that you are more likely to develop as such medications also weaken the collagen fibres present in your skin. Corticosteroids are generally used to treat conditions such as asthma, eczema, and autoimmune disorders. However, they may affect your skin’s ability to stretch and recover, which typically leads to the formation of stretch marks. Corticosteroid medications include cortisone, hydrocortisone and prednisone.

2.5. Underlying Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions could increase your risk of developing stretch marks or strie distensae. Such underlying medical conditions include Cushing’s syndrome, Marfan syndrome, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome; these conditions may lead to impairment of your skin’s elasticity or collagen production, which will make your skin more likely to stretch and in turn lead to the formation of stretch marks.

2.6. Lifestyle Factors

Your lifestyle factors like diet, hydration and your skincare habits also play a role in your likelihood of developing stretch marks. A poor diet or poor nutrition, dehydration, and lack of skincare negatively impact your skin’s health and resilience and make it more prone to damage and stretching. This may lead to the formation of stretch marks on your skin.

2.7. Muscle Building

Muscle-building activities like weight lifting and bodybuilding often cause rapid expansion and growth of muscles, which in turn causes sudden expansion or stretching of one’s skin. This leads to stretch marks in the affected areas, and thus, stretch marks are really common in bodybuilders, especially in those who achieve significant muscle gains in a very short period of time.

2.8. Age

With age, your skin will naturally lose its elasticity as well as collagen fibers, and this will make your skin more susceptible to stretching or tearing. This is why older people are more prone to developing stretch marks, especially the ones who experience rapid weight fluctuations or hormonal changes.

3. Are stretch marks common?

Stretch marks are common and are not just found in pregnant women. Most people develop stretch marks during puberty. People who are obese often have stretch marks; bodybuilders also often get stretch marks, as bodybuilding can cause quick changes to the body. Overall, studies suggest that up to 90% of people have stretch marks on their bodies.

4. Are stretch marks harmful?

Stretch marks are not harmful or painful medically. However, they may have an adverse impact on one’s appearance and lower one’s self-confidence and self-esteem. They raise concerns regarding one’s body image, which is why many people with stretch marks try their best to get rid of them or minimize their impact on their appearance. Stretch marks may be permanent, or they may change or fade over time.

5. Cause of Purple Stretch Marks?

Your stretch marks are purple because they are new. The colour or appearance of stretch marks also depends on your natural skin tone, overall skin health and elasticity, and the body part where the stretch marks have developed. You need not be worried as stretch marks are not harmful to your health and they are not painful either.

6. Who is at risk of getting stretch marks?

Some people are more likely to get stretch marks than others. Risk factors of stretch marks or striae distensae include the following:

  • Being female
  • Having a personal or family history of stretch marks
  • Being pregnant, especially at a young age
  • Rapid growth in adolescence or during puberty
  • Rapid weight gain or loss
  • Use of corticosteroids
  • Having a breast enlargement surgery
  • Exercising and using anabolic steroids
  • Having a genetic disorder like Cushing syndrome or Marfan syndrome

7. How are stretch marks treated?

If you are suffering from strie distensae, your dermatologist may prescribe the following treatments to minimise the impact of stretch marks on your looks.

7.1. Tretinoine Cream

Alternatively known as Retin-A and Renova, tretinoine cream works by restoring collagen fibres, which in turn increases the elasticity of your skin. It gives the best results if applied on recent or new stretch marks which are generally red, pink or sometimes purple in colour. Tretinoine cream may cause skin irritation. Pregnant women should not use tretinoine cream.

7.2. Hyaluronic Acid Cream

Two large studies found that applying hyaluronic acid cream consistently on recent stretch marks made them less noticeable. Also, hyaluronic acid is considered safe for most people to use.

7.3. Pulsed Dye Laser Therapy

Pulsed dye laser therapy could be used to treat stretch marks and the therapy is generally very effective if the stretch marks are new. This laser therapy may cause some skin discoloration in people with dark skin tones. Side effects of pulsed dye therapy include the following.

  • You may experience pain during treatment, which may be reduced by contact cooling or a topical anaesthetic in some cases.
  • You may experience redness, swelling or itching after the procedure and this may last for few days.
  • In rare cases, skin pigment may absorb too much light, causing blisters.
  • Up to 10% of patients experience bruising (purpura), which usually fades on its own.
  • Bacterial infection, which are generally treated by antibiotics. Antibiotics are also used to prevent wound infection.

7.4. Fractional Photothermolysis

This treatment is a non-surgical and non-invasive procedure, which uses fractional laser technology to deliver precise energy to the affected area without harming the skin surrounding that area. Fractional Photothermolysis is a safe as well as convenient option for stretch mark removal.

7.5. Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion works by gently breaking up the top layer of skin to pull dead and damaged skin away. This procedure treats light scarring, discoloration, stretch marks and sun damage. Side effects of microdermabrasion include skin redness and swelling, bruising, burning, and increased skin sensitivity to sunlight.

7.6. Excimer Laser Therapy

The Excimer Laser Therapy is particularly useful for treating old, white stretch marks. This laser emits short UV pulses, which stimulate your skin cells (melanocytes) to produce skin pigment known as melanin. Melanin darkens your stretch marks in order to blend them with the surrounding skin. Stretch marks that are hypopigmented or lighter than the normal skin tone have shown positive response to the excimer laser therapy, making it one of the most effective ways of removing old stretch marks.

8. Conclusion

In a nutshell, strie distensae is a common dermatological issue that could happen due to a combination of factors. Stretch marks can be associated with puberty growth spurts, pregnancy and bodybuilding. Genetics, hormonal changes, age and skin tone play a role in causing stretch marks too. A lot of people suffer from body image issues due to the negative impact that these marks have on their appearance.

If you are one of them, know that you are not alone and that there is no need to be ashamed about this condition. Stretch marks may never permanently disappear, but their impact on your natural appearance can be minimized by various treatments and procedures.

Last Updated on March 24, 2024 by Gautam