Stretch marks

Check if you have stretch marks

Stretch marks look like lines or streaks across the skin.

Purple streaks on white skin, covering the lower tummy. Each streak is about 1cm wide and several centimetres long.
Stretch marks can be pink, red, brown, black, silver or purple. They usually start off darker and fade over time.
Dark, shiny streaks on brown skin, covering the upper arm. Each streak is about 1cm wide and several centimetres long.
Stretch marks are most common on the tummy, breasts, chest, upper arms, legs, bottom, hips or back.

Common causes of stretch marks

Stretch marks are often caused by sudden growth or weight gain.

You may be more likely to get them if you:

Rarely, stretch marks can be due to a condition called Cushing's syndrome.

What to do about stretch marks

Stretch marks usually fade over time but may not disappear completely.

Many creams and lotions claim to prevent, reduce or remove stretch marks. But there's very little evidence these work.

There are some treatments that may help make stretch marks look better, but they will not get rid of them.

They include:

You would need to pay for these treatments as they're not available on the NHS.


It's not always possible to prevent stretch marks. The best way to reduce your chance of getting them is by maintaining a healthy weight.

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

You have large stretch marks and:

  • more fat on your chest and tummy, but slim arms and legs
  • a build-up of fat on the back of your neck and shoulders
  • a red, puffy, rounded face

These could be symptoms of Cushing's syndrome.

Page last reviewed: 30 April 2024
Next review due: 30 April 2027