Stretch marks can look like purple, pink, red or white streaks on the skin that feel slightly indented. They often form on the hips, thighs, breasts or abdomen. The scars appear when the elastic fibers in the middle layer of the skin tear due to stress. They can be caused by rapid weight gain or pregnancy, as well as by a sudden change in your body's shape. If you're worried about getting them, there are ways to minimize their appearance.
Gaining weight too quickly can cause them, especially if you go through a growth spurt as a teenager or during a pregnancy. When your body stretches too fast, the elastic fibers in the skin tear and form long, thin scars called stretch marks.
Women are more likely to get them than men, but they can affect anyone. They typically show up after the first five months of pregnancy or growth, but they can also develop as a result of putting on muscle mass rapidly, such as in bodybuilding.
You can help prevent them by drinking enough water to stay hydrated, as well as eating skin-healthy foods that are rich in zinc, protein and vitamins A, C and E. Coconut oil is especially effective, as it keeps the skin hydrated and might make stretch marks less noticeable by making the skin more even in tone, according to the Cleveland Clinic. You can also try a topical treatment such as retinol cream, tretinoin (Retin-A) or microneedling, which might stimulate the growth of collagen and reduce the appearance of stretch marks.