Types of Stretch Marks (With Pictures) | Striae classification

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Did you know that there are 7 stretch marks types? The formal name for stretch marks is striae, dermatology classify them into 7 types:
Striae Rubrae, Striae Gravidarum, Striae Albae, Striae nigra, Striae Caerulea, Striae Distensae, Striae Atrophicans.

Types of Stretch Marks

Each type of stria has its specificities and occurs for different reasons.

If you want to know more about the particularities and the causes behind each type of stria, why they happen, and how to prevent and treat them the best, keep reading.

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Before going over each type of stretch marks, let's refresh our memory briefly with some facts about stretch marks.

Stretch Marks, what are they?

The skin is the most stretchy organ of the human body, it can extend or retract to a certain limit. The layer of skin responsible for its elasticity is called "the Dermis". 

The skin stretches when the body changes its shape because of weight gain, puberty, growth of the muscle mass, or any other factors that might affect your weight or shape.

If those body changes happen fast. The elasticity of the skin reaches its maximum mechanical limit. 

Once it happens, it will cause a collagen breakdown in the Dermis.

Once the dermis is damaged, our organism will start a healing process leading to the appearance of stretch marks

Stretch marks or striae are technically scars. They will fade out with time (serval years) but they will never disappear completely.

So, after this brief reminder, let's dive in and start with the first and most widespread type of stretch marks.

Stretch Marks type: Striae Distensae

Striae Distensea are the most prevalent type of stretch marks. They are associated with the following causes:

  1. Quick weight/shape changes
  2. puberty. 
  3. Steroid use
  4. Pregnancy
  5. Obesity
  6. Cushing syndrome
 The picture below shows Striae Distensae.

Striae Distensae

Striae Distensae appear like lines pointing to the perpendicular direction of the skin. There are 2 main forms of striae Distensae: Stria Rubra and Striae Alba. 

Less frequent forms of Stria Distensae are called Striae Nigra and Striae Caerulea.

In the following section, we're going to discuss each one of these forms.

Stretch Marks type: Striae Rubra

Rubra in Latin means Red, Striae Rubra is the early stage of striae Distensae. Usually, they can be red, pink, or purple. After 7 to 12 months, they start losing their color and may turn either white or black, depending on the individual skin pigmentation. 

Striae Rubra

What characterizes this type of stretch marks is that they have the best response to stretch marks treatments.

Why you should treat Striae Rubra in priority

Striae Rubra is a type of stretch mark that can be treated relatively easily comparing to the other types of stretch marks. The cutaneous lesions are still fresh. Unlike the striae, Striae Rubra has a great response to the majority of stretch marks treatments available.

Stimulating collagen production in the concerned areas may reduce drastically the future aspect of stretch marks.

Topical creams treatments can be a very effective way of getting rid of this type of stretch marks.

Topical Creams to treat stretch marks: our recommendation XYZCollagen

XYZ collagen is a topical cream that boosts the collagen production of the skin. The natural active ingredients of this cream have been clinically proven to treat and prevent stretch marks. For more info check out XYZ collagen official website.

To boost the XYZcollagen result, you can start exfoliating dead skin around the area of stretch marks. 

Stretch Marks type: Striae Albae

Striae alba is the mature stage of Striae Distensiae. After a few months, striae Rubra transforms into Striae Alba. Striae alba are white stretch marks and are the hardest stretch mark to treat. Over the years, they will eventually start to diminish and fadeout to a certain degree.

Striae Albae

Striae alba Treatments

Unlike Striae Rubra, Topical creams and even laser therapy may not be very efficient in treating striae alba. The reason is that stretch marks tissues forming this type of striae are already atrophied. However, some recent clinical trials showed promising results in the treatment of striae albae. 

The treatment consists of a combination of 2 existing treatments: Fractionated Microneedle Radiofrequency and Fractional CO2 laser. As you can see in the picture below, this treatment shows promising results.

Striae alba Treatments before after

Sources: US national library of medicine: Stria alba treatment FMR + CO2

Stretch Marks type: Striae nigra

Striae Nigra

Striae Negra are black stretch marks. They are a rare form of striae Distensiae. They develop only within people that have dark skin. The reasons are not clear, but recent studies suggest that this type of stretch marks are caused by Hypermelanosis around the areas of the skin affected by stretch marks.

Source: National Library of Medicine: Striae Nigrae

Stretch Marks type: Striae Caerulea

Striae Caerulea are dark blue Stretch marks. Like Striae Nigrae, they are not a very prevalent form of striae Distensiae and only applicable to persons with darker skin.

Striae Distensae and Ethnicity

The result of the studies published in The American journal of dermatology show that black women have higher chances than caucasian women of developing striae Distensae. Darker skin increases the chances of striae distensae to occur. 

However, if you have dark skin, you still can reduce this risk by by applying some measures which aim to prevent stretch marks. Such as having a balanced diet, Working out, moisturize the skin, and control your weight.

Striae Distensae (Stretch marks) and Gender prevalence

A study conducted on a group of 131 adolescents showed that males have almost the same chances of getting affected by striae distensae as females when exposed to a stretch marks cause. 

Source: Gender Prevalence of striae distensae

Summary: Striae Distensae

Striae Distensae are the most prevalent type of stretch mark among men and women. They may occur when a person experiences a significant weight loss or gain, puberty, pregnancy, Obesity, and Cushing syndrome.
There are 4 different forms of Striae distensae.
  1. Striae Rubra early stage of Striae Distensae (red or purple stretch marks) and the easiest to heal.
  2. Striae Alba which is a mature Striae Distensae (white stretch marks)
  3. Striae nigra and Caerulea mature Striae Distensae ( black or dark blue stretch marks), which develop among persons with darker skin.

In the next section, we're going over the most widespread type of stretch marks among women, which is Striae Gravidarum.

Stretch Marks type: Striae Gravidarum

Striae Gravidarum

Striae Gravidarum refers to stretch marks caused by pregnancy. Most pregnant women will get this type of stretch marks (the incidence rate is between 50% to 90%). Their thickness is larger than that of regular Striae Distensiae. 

Striae Gravidarum are formed usually after the 24th week. However, they can show up sooner in 43% of cases. Research indicates that these types of stretch marks are caused by a change in the skin collagen structure due to hormonal changes during pregnancy and the uterus growth.

However, you can prevent stretch marks during pregnancy by following these steps:

  1. Exercise
  2. Avoid stress
  3. Have a vitamins-rich and balanced diet
  4. Moisturize your skin
  5. Monitor your weight
For further info, feel free to check out our article: How to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy?

Resource: STRIAE GRAVIDARUM 

How Striae gravidarum looks?

When they start showing up, the Striae Gravidarum will look like red to pink bands or streaks (Striae Rubra). After few weeks following their appearance, they will get bigger and start to turn red-violet. 

As months pass by, they will start fading out and become white. Striae Gravidarums are typically located on the belly, hips, and breasts.

Risk factors of Striae Gravidrum

Some behaviors and Factors raise the risks related to the Striae Gravidarum. Recent research showed that a high BMI ( basal mass index) before pregnancy, which is associated with overweight, raises the chances of developing Striae Gravidrum and striae Distensiae.

The research showed also that genetic factors increase the chances of having striae Gravidrum. If your mother or close relatives have them, you will more likely have them too.

Other stretch marks risk factors include smoking, Prolonged exposition to sunlight without protection, unbalanced diet.

How to prevent striae gravidarum

Striae Gravidarum are not unavoidable, you can reduce the risk and their appearance by doing the following things: 

  1. Moisturize your skin 
  2. Apply topical cream that increases collagen production 
  3. Massage your hips, belly using bio-oils, almonds oil, or olive oil.

Resource: Research: Striae gravidarum management

Stretch Marks type: Striae Atrophicans

Striae Atrophicans are a particular type of stretch marks that are caused by the use of some drugs that damage the skin or chronic diseases. They are much bigger than regular stretch marks. They can appear on the belly, hips, thigh, Shoulders, chest, or the back.

The picture below shows a Striae Atrophican on the thigh of a male using steroids.

Striae Atrophicans

Picture Striae Atropicans Source

Even if they are painless, you should consult a doctor as soon as they appear. Because they may be the sign of more grave health issues.

Drugs that may causes Striae Atrophicans

  1. Steroids 
  2. corticoid

Diseases associated with Striae Atrophicans

  1. Cushing syndrome 
  2. anorexia nervosa 
  3. Marfan syndrome 
  4. Liver disease 
  5. febrile illnesses

Striae Atrophicans and Bodybuilding

Striae Atropican is a prevalent issue among bodybuilders that uses steroids, along with that steroids damage the leaver, kidney, and mess up the hormonal balance of the body.

Resource: NIH - Stretch Marks (Striae).

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