What diseases cause stretch marks?

Stretch marks are skin lesions caused by stretching and breaking of skin fibers. In most cases, stretch marks occur in physiological processes that involve growth of the body surface, such as occur in puberty development or during pregnancy. However, some diseases or drugs will predispose some people to the formation of stretch marks.


Why do some diseases cause stretch marks?

Some diseases or treatments will likely influence or harm stretch marks because they directly affect the metabolism and functioning of the skin. Thus, any process that may intervene in the normal renewal of skin tissues may be indirectly responsible for the formation of stretch marks. Certain diseases can reduce the ability of the skin to regenerate, as well as cause a more fragile and thin skin, with a tendency to "break".


Cushing's syndrome

Cushing's syndrome is caused by an excess of the hormone cortisol in the blood. It can occur due to an alteration of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, responsible for the production and management of this hormone in our body or by taking corticosteroids as a drug. Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs whose use is widespread since they are the treatment of a multitude of diseases, so that many people are susceptible to developing Cushing's syndrome. The appearance of symptoms will be determined by the levels of cortisol in the blood, that is, by the dose of drug that is administered.

Cushing's syndrome can cause the following signs and symptoms on the skin and subcutaneous tissue:

  • Weight gain and changes in the distribution of body fat, which mainly affects the abdominal area, the upper part of the back, and the face.
  • Thin and fragile skin with a tendency to bruise
  • Large pink stretch marks that can affect any part of the body such as abdomen, thighs, arms and breasts.
  • Acne-like skin lesions
  • Slow healing of wounds of any kind, since they are immunosuppressive drugs.
  • Increased facial and body hair (hirsutism)

Many of these symptoms and signs will be reversible when cortisol levels normalize, however stretch marks, even if they change their appearance, will not disappear.


Diseases that affect collagen and / or connective tissue

There is a group of diseases of genetic origin that affect the formation of collagen or connective tissue. The two most prevalent are Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. They are diagnosed using complex clinical classifications and laboratory data. The most obvious signs and symptoms on the skin will be related to skin fragility and hyperextension of the joints. Both processes will cause the skin to break and stretch marks to appear more frequently.

Other rare diseases such as cutis laxa, in which the skin "hangs" will also cause more stretch marks and difficulty in healing certain wounds.

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