Stretch marks of any color are common, and they do not pose any serious health concerns.
White stretch marks commonly occur on the thighs, stomach, breasts, and upper arms.
Some people may wish to treat white stretch marks for cosmetic reasons. It is possible to do this using professional treatments. In some cases, home remedies may also be effective.
In this article, we discuss white stretch marks and their causes. We also list the various treatments options.
Stretch marks are superficial tears in the skin. Some appear as red lines across the skin, while others may look white or silvery. The color of the marks indicates whether they occurred recently or are older.
In the beginning, stretch marks will appear on the skin as red or purple lesions. These are known as striae rubra.
Over time, these red marks will typically fade to white or silver (striae alba). Eventually, some stretch marks may disappear completely. Not all marks will vanish, however.
Red stretch marks are typically easier to treat. The red hue indicates the presence of blood vessels under the skin. These blood vessels may respond well to treatment.
Once the marks turn white, however, it suggests that the blood vessels have narrowed. Narrow blood vessels make successful treatment less likely.
Nonetheless, it may be possible to reduce the appearance of some white stretch marks using cosmetic treatments or home remedies.
Available treatments for stretch marks include prescription retinoid creams and dermatological procedures.
The sections below discuss these options in more detail.
Topical retinoid creams, which come from vitamin A, may help reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
These creams tend to be most effective for red stretch marks. The effects may be less drastic on white stretch marks, or there may be no observable difference at all.
People who wish to try topical creams can ask their doctor about a retinoid called tretinoin (Retin-A, Renova, or Avita).
Tretinoin helps rebuild collagen, though it may cause skin irritation and may not be safe for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Laser therapy uses powerful beams of light to trigger skin regeneration. Even if laser removal does not completely get rid of stretch marks, it can make them smoother and reduce their appearance.
According to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, it may be necessary to have up to 20 sessions over several weeks in order to see a 20–60% improvement.
Microdermabrasion is a noninvasive and painless procedure that involves the use of fine crystals and a wand-like device to exfoliate and remove the top layer of skin.
Some side effects of microdermabrasion include short-term swelling and sunburn-like sensations.
People will need several sessions before they see results, and even then, microdermabrasion may not fully heal all stretch marks. Results typically depend on the age and severity of the stretch marks.
Microneedling uses tiny needles to puncture the skin. This prompts the skin to heal itself by producing new collagen.
Microneedling can treat stretch marks and minor scarring, as well as sun damage and wrinkles.
Several treatment sessions will be necessary to see results. Learn more about microneedling in this article.
If stretch marks on the abdomen are accompanied by loose, sagging skin, a surgical procedure called abdominoplasty, or a tummy tuck, may help.
The procedure will remove the excess skin that contains the stretch marks.
A tummy tuck is only suitable in certain situations and for certain people. It is not suitable for those who have stretch marks without excess skin, and it may not be suitable for people who smoke or those with obesity.
Home remedies may help in some cases of white stretch marks, but they are not usually as effective as professional stretch mark treatments.
Some options include:
Regular exfoliation can help remove dead skin cells. Exfoliating before using other treatments, such as topical creams, may help them penetrate the skin more deeply and improve the treatment’s effectiveness.
Always ask a doctor or dermatologist if it is safe to exfoliate before or between cosmetic treatments, especially when using prescription creams.
Over-the-counter topical treatments
Many over-the-counter (OTC) creams and ointments aim to reduce the appearance of white stretch marks.
Some options include:
- Collagen therapies. These are products that aim to stimulate collagen production.
- Hydrating creams and oils. According to some, certain creams and oils may improve the skin’s elasticity and hydration. Examples of these include cocoa butter, vitamin E oil, olive oil, and coconut oil.
- Skin cell growth creams. These topical treatments aim to stimulate cell growth and reproduction, and they include many creams marketed specifically for stretch marks.
Although some people may notice their stretch marks fade after using these products, others find no benefit.
It is important to note that there is a lack of evidence for many OTC topical remedies for stretch marks, and the American Academy of Dermatology suggest that these products have little effect on white stretch marks. That said, some may help reduce the appearance of red marks.
Although experts are unsure of whether or not they are effective, OTC topical treatments are also unlikely to be harmful unless a person has an allergy to them.
Makeup and self-tanner
Although neither makeup nor self-tanner can remove stretch marks, they can cover the affected areas and make the marks less noticeable.
Tanning using tanning beds does not improve stretch marks. In fact, it can make them more noticeable, as white stretch marks do not tan and will look more pronounced.
Stretch marks occur when the skin stretches. They commonly develop when someone rapidly gains or loses weight. They are also common during pregnancy.
According to some research, around 50–90% of pregnant women report developing stretch marks.
Other conditions and situations where stretch marks occur include:
- breast augmentation
- Cushing’s syndrome, which is an endocrine gland disorder
- muscle hypertrophy
- topical corticosteroid use
Stretch marks are twice as common in women. They are also more likely to develop in those with a family history of stretch marks, and in people who smoke.
White stretch marks are a common occurrence. They are simply red stretch marks that have changed color over time.
Generally, white stretch marks are harder to treat than red ones. However, some treatment options may still be effective.
People who would like to know more about white stretch marks and the treatment options available to them can speak to their doctor or dermatologist.