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Stretch marks in pregnancy

Stretch marks are narrow, streak-like lines that can develop on the surface of the skin. They are most common on the tummy, breasts and thighs.

Stretch marks can be pink, red, purple or brown, depending on your skin colour. They can feel itchy and tight.

Around 8 out of 10 women will get stretch marks during pregnancy.

stretch marks on pregnant tummy
Pregnancy stretch marks

Causes of stretch marks in pregnancy

You are likely to get stretch marks if your mother or sister got them. Genetics are the biggest factor in whether you get stretch marks.

You may be more likely to get stretch marks if your weight gain during pregnancy is more than average. Everyone gains slightly different amounts of weight during pregnancy.

Eating a wide variety of healthy foods can help to keep your weight gain healthy.

What you can do

To reduce itchiness and discomfort, keep your skin well moisturised during pregnancy.

There are creams and oils that claim to prevent stretch marks. But there's no scientific evidence that they actually work.

After pregnancy

Stretch marks usually fade after pregnancy.

If your stretch marks don't fade after pregnancy and you're concerned, talk to your GP. Your GP can refer you to a dermatologist.

Page last reviewed: 25 July 2023
Next review due: 25 July 2026