Updated: 2021, May 9

The Difference Between Red and White Stretch Marks

With age, people experience stretch marks, and yet the duration of stretch marks can decide the type of stretch marks.

You might be wondering why some of your  stretch marks are white and silvery and some are red, almost purple.

The Difference Between Red and White Stretch Marks
You can get stretch marks If you don’t take care of your skin. Shutterstock images

The only difference between these two kinds of stretch marks is the age of the mark. Newer stretch marks tend to be a little bit red and the older ones tend to be white.

Red Stretch Marks and Their Development

Stretch marks are basically tears on the skin, on the dermal layer specifically, caused by over-stretching of the skin due to weight gain/loss, hormonal changes, or pregnancy.

On the onset, stretch marks tend to be reddish/purple and as such are referred to as Striae Rubra.

This is because as the skin fibers break, tiny tears develop which allows the underlying blood vessels to show through.

Remedy for Striae Rubra

As mentioned, red/purple stretch marks are newer compared to the white ones and will most likely be more responsive to treatment.

The most effective treatment for striae rubra will probably be either Pulse-dye laser treatments or prescription retinoid creams.

  • Pulse-dye Laser Treatments: Pulse-dye laser treatments will improve the color of your red stretch marks by up to 25-75%. These kinds of lasers deliver light into targeted areas of the skin like blood vessels. The light then destroys the vessels by shrinking them; this will then remove the discoloration of your stretch marks. Pulse-dye laser treatments have been used since the ’80s to cure port wine stain birthmarks in babies and children. The treatment is relatively safe but the patient may experience swelling and bruising for a couple of days. Nothing an ice pack can’t fix.
  • Prescription Retinoid (Tretinoin): Studies show that this vitamin A derivative can cause a 14% improvement of newly developed stretch marks. Tretinoin helps with wrinkles and stretch marks by stimulating collagen production which is important in keeping the skin’s elasticity. It does very little for older stretch marks though so it is best to use it for the red ones. Word of caution: although extremely effective, tretinoin is a known teratogenic and should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women.
striae rubra

Trying these Natural ingredients can help you to get rid of Stretch Marks.

White Stretch Marks and Their Development

White or silver-colored stretch marks are marks wherein the blood vessels have constricted and receded leaving the underlying fat tissue visible.

The white fat tissues give it that distinct silvery color. These kinds of stretch marks are clinically referred to as Striae alba.

Remedy for Striae Alba

Since they are older marks it will take more than just a topical prescription to lighten them.

In fact, most experts will argue that they do not complete go away unless surgically excised; even then, you cannot remove all of them because there are some sections of skin that are not amenable to excision.

No need to worry however because although your options are limited, you at least have some viable ones.

Stretch Marks On Thighs

Stretch marks of the hip area can be removed by laser treatment. Shutterstock Images

  • Fractional Non-Ablative Laser: through photothermolysis the laser creates micro-“wounds” through several layers of skin. The development of these micro-wounds will trigger a wound-healing response from the body which, in time, will replace the wound and the tissue around it with healthier cells and tissue. This is ideal for stretch marks because these marks are technically scars that have not seemed to heal properly, introducing micro-wounds through photothermolysis triggers the body to heal these scars.
  • Surgery: In abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck” excess skin and fatty tissue in the abdomen is removed and along with the skin-the stretch marks that used to be there. A similar process may be done for stretch marks on the upper arms and thighs.

The appearance of stretch marks whether red or white still continue to bother men and women all over the world.

It comes as great news then that even if we cannot completely eliminate them, that we now have options to improve their appearance over time.

Read Next: Can Stretch Marks Go Away With Exercise?


Donna Fisher

Donna is an award-winning health, wellness, and beauty writer based in Texas. She has also published eBooks and edited several other

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