Stretchmarks (which are also known as striae) are also a kind of scarring. They have the appearance of red or purple lines which over time fade to a lighter colour and happen when the dermis (the middle layer of the skin) is damaged. As it is the dermis that keeps the skin’s shape, affected areas tend to feel soft to the touch.

Stretchmarks can occur anywhere, but they are more likely to occur on the abdomen, breasts, arms, thighs, buttocks and hips. They are caused by the skin being stretched, generally by rapid weight changes for instance during the last trimester pregnancy. They can also occur during puberty. It is thought that the condition is exacerbated by the kinds of hormonal changes that occur during puberty and pregnancy.

Treatments – there are a number of treatments that can improve the appearance of stretchmarks, including a number of creams and moisturisers which are most effective when used while the marks are still purple or red. Laser treatments can also be effective.