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Stretch marks

2-minute read

Stretch marks are narrow pink to purple streak-like lines that can develop on the surface of the skin. They usually appear on your stomach or sometimes on your upper thighs or breasts as your pregnancy progresses. The first sign you notice might be itchiness around an area where the skin is becoming thin and pink.

Anyone can develop stretch marks, they don’t just affect pregnant women. They can happen whenever the skin is stretched, such as when we’re growing during puberty, or when we gain or lose weight.

You are more likely to develop stretch marks in the last 3 months of your pregnancy as the skin on your stomach stretches to make room for your growing baby.

It’s not always possible to prevent stretch marks, but you are more likely to get stretch marks if your weight gain is more than average during your pregnancy. Most women gain between 11kg and 16kg in pregnancy, although weight gain varies a great deal from woman to woman. If you are worried about your weight, talk to your midwife or doctor.

Stretch marks are not harmful. They don't cause medical problems, and there's usually no need to see your doctor because there isn't a specific treatment for them. Over time, your skin will shrink and most stretch marks will fade to white over time.

Some creams claim to remove stretch marks once they've appeared, but there is no reliable evidence that they work. There is also limited evidence on whether oils or creams help to prevent stretch marks from appearing in the first place.

Laser therapy can't completely remove stretch marks, but it may help fade them.

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Last reviewed: January 2020


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ACD A-Z of Skin - Striae

Stretch marks are extremely common, affecting over 70% of the population. There are two types of stretch marks - striae rubra (red or new stretch marks) and striae alba (white or old stretch marks).

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Pregnancy at week 27

Your baby is growing fast and probably quite active now. You'll also be gaining more weight and might even be getting some stretch marks.

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Changes to your skin during pregnancy

As your pregnancy develops, you may find that you experience changes to your skin and hair.

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Common discomforts during pregnancy

Your body has a great deal to do during pregnancy. Sometimes the changes taking place will cause irritation or discomfort, and on occasions they may seem quite alarming.

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Stretch marks - Better Health Channel

Over time, stretch marks lose their bright colouring and become silvery, shimmering lines.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

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Pregnant with twins? Twin pregnancy can have more complications, so you’ll need more check-ups. Here’s what to expect in your pregnancy and antenatal care.

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ACD A-Z of Skin - Polymorphic eruption of pregnancy

Polymorphic eruption of pregnancy (PEP) is a relatively common pregnancy dermatosis that causes very itchy red bumps to appear over the abdomen.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Pregnancy at week 21

At week 21, you should consider whether to do any travel since you may not be able to for much longer in your pregnancy.

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From conception to giving birth, a woman's body goes through many physical changes. Learn what happens to your body during pregnancy and labour.

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Pregnancy at week 22

By week 22, some parts of your baby’s body are fully formed, while some women experience Braxton Hicks contractions about now.

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The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

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