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I'm 15, which is young, but I've noticed I have horizontal stretch marks on the back of my legs and arms. They just started popping up.

On the Mayo Clinic site, they are defined:

Stretch marks (striae) are indented streaks that often appear on the abdomen, breasts, hips, buttocks and thighs.

I also see that risk factors include "being female, having a personal or family history of stretch marks, and being pregnant, especially for younger women."

What causes these stretch marks? Is it common to get them at a young age? Are they more common in some people than others (besides what was mentioned above?)

  • Hi and welcome to the site. I took some liberties with your question to make it more on-topic, which I hope is OK. If you have any objections to them, please feel free to roll back (click on "edited" above my name and you'll see an option to roll back.) Thanks. :) – anongoodnurse Jan 31 '16 at 0:28
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What causes these stretch marks?

Stretch marks (striae) are caused by intradermal tears, that means tears that occur within the skin layers. These tears are caused when two things happen at the same time.

  1. The skin is stretching at a high rate. This happens when you gain weight rapidly, are pregnant, or are otherwise undergoing changes in body shape - as happens during the adolescent and teenage years.

  2. There's not enough new collagen being synthesized in the skin to accommodate that stretching.

Is it common to get them at a young age?

Yes - in this case meaning adolescent and teenage years. The reasons are twofold:

First, these are years when your body is undergoing changes in shape and composition. The skin has to stretch to accommodate these changes.

Second, something we haven't discussed yet is the effect of cortisol on collagen synthesis. Cortisone is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal gland in response to stress among other things. It's been shown to inhibit collagen synthesis, effectively making the skin (and cartilage in the joints) less stretchy.

Are they more common in some people than others (besides what was mentioned above?)

People with increased adrenal cortical activity, such as teenagers and those with Cushing's disease.

References

"The cause of striae distensae"

"Effects of cortisol acetate on collagen biosynthesis..."

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  • To add to "This happens when you gain weight rapidly, are pregnant, or are otherwise undergoing changes in body shape", athletes, and especially body builders, can get stretch marks where muscle mass increases rapidly. – Chris Rogers Jan 21 '17 at 12:39
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Not only are the risk factors you posted associated with stretch marks but also having high BMI (body mass index) or being over weight with high fat. When your over weight and have high fat in the act of trying to reduce weight,the skin forms wrinkles which later on form stretch marks. Its like removing air from a ballon. So stretch marks dont imply to age

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  • This doesn't really address the OP's question. – anongoodnurse Feb 6 '16 at 23:39
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Ya, it's true. Due to this high fat on skin tissues, stretch marks occur. If there is proper diet and the proper exercise then these marks are reduce at some extent. Also, there should be massage of the skin at least twice a week for the betterment of skin tissues. For simple massage, you can have appareil cellulite for massaging. Have a look.

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  • 1
    Welcome to health SE :-). The site policy is that references are strongly encouraged and should be reliable and the answers that don't contain them risk being deleted. You can always edit your question to include references. Thanks! – Lucky Feb 23 '16 at 21:53

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