Striae (Stria): The clinical term for “stretch marks,” which are pink, red, or purple indented streaks on the skin. Over time, striae may fade from bright-colored streaks to white or grayish lines. Striae often appear on the abdomen, upper arms, underarms, inner and outer thighs, and buttocks. Seventy-five to 90 percent of women experience striae during pregnancy. Patients with striae should talk to their doctor if they are concerned about the appearance of their skin, and if the stretch marks cover large parts of their body.
Striae Atrophicae: The term “atrophicae” refers to the atrophy, or the wasting away, of the part of dermis that leads to the formation of striae. This part of the dermis cannot be repaired because it has lost the ability to “bounce back” due to a lack of collagen and elastin. They often occur during puberty in both genders and pregnancy. They can also be caused by steroid therapy, corticosteroid treatment (such as in Cushing’s syndrome), and by rapid weight gain or loss.
Synonyms include: Vergetures, striae distensae, striae cutis distensae, striae gravidarum, linea atrophicae, and linea albicante.
Vergetures: The French term for “mark of lash,” which refers to the rod-shaped appearance of stretch marks that resemble lashes left by a whip. Vergetures are also known as stria cutis distensae.
Striae Distensae: stretching the skin produces “striae distensae,” which are linear bands that form in areas of dermal damage. They often occur during puberty and pregnancy in women and may also be induced by steroid therapy, corticosteroid treatment (such as in Cushing’s Syndrome), and by rapid weight gain or loss.
Striae Cutis Distensae: Please refer to definition above for Vergetures.
Striae Gravidarum: Refers specifically to stretch marks that form during pregnancy, most typically found on the breasts, abdomen, and buttocks.
Lineae Atrophicae: Bands of thin skin that are initially red, but become purple and white. Lineae Atrophicae occur most often on the abdomen, buttocks, and thighs at puberty and/or pregnancy resulting from an overdistension of the dermis. They may also be associated with ascites and Cushing's syndrome.
Linea Albicante: Please refer to the definition above for Striae atrophicae.
Cushing’s Syndrome is also known as hyperadrenocorticism or hypercorticism, and is a is a hormone disorder that is caused when an abnormally high level of cortisol is found in the bloodstream. Cushing’s syndrome can be caused by taking glucocorticoid drugs or by tumors that produce cortisol or adrenocorticotropic hormone. Symptoms may include rapid weight gain around the abdominal and collar/back region, and excess sweating. An acute increase in stretch marks is often found.
Adrenal Gland Disease: In general, adrenal gland disease is a condition that interferes with the normal functioning of the adrenal glands. Each of the body’s two adrenal glands are located above each kidney. Dysfunctions are characterized by adrenal insufficiencies, in which there is decreased availability of steroids that are produced by the adrenal glands, which results in hyperfunction or hypofunction of various body processes. Such illnesses may be congenital or acquired. Common symptoms of adrenal dysfunction include fatigue, poor appetites, dizziness, weight loss, and nausea.
Corticosteroids: Consist of steroid hormones that are produced in the adrenal cortex that are involved in a number of physiologic systems such as stress response, immune response, immune regulation, blood electrolyte levels, and behavior. If an abnormal amount of corticosteriods are produced or given to the body via exogenous means, these systems can dysfunction resulting in Cushing’s syndrome.
Medical Review: Gauri Khurana, MD, (01/10)