Q. My teenage son has what looks like stretch marks on the back of his hips and thighs. Can boys get stretch marks? Does he need to see a doctor?
A. Yes, teen boys can get stretch marks, says Dr. Alessandra Rotella, a pediatrician with University Plaza Pediatrics in Garden City and Babylon. So can teen girls. "I see it a lot," she says.
Usually the parallel red or purplish marks on the skin are caused by rapidly gaining or losing a significant amount of weight.
"I'm not talking about four pounds," Rotella says.
The marks are caused by the skin stretching, hence the name. While they are usually associated with pregnancy, anyone can get them. "Some people are just prone to them. They may fade in time, but they never go away 100 percent. It's just like a scar," Rotella says. "It's not like you put a cream on them and they go away." When they fade, they may turn a whitish or silvery color.
Some young girls may get them in the chest area if they blossom suddenly, Rotella says. While it's possible to also get them if the teens are weightlifting, Rotella says the majority are caused by fluctuations in weight. Changes in height don't seem to cause them, she says.
Usually the marks aren't medically related, unless the teen gets them on the upper back. In that case, the teen would likely also have other signs and symptoms of something amiss, such as a metabolic disorder called Cushing's syndrome, and should see a doctor, Rotella says.