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Striae distensae, otherwise known as stretch marks, are common skin lesions found in a variety of clinical settings. They occur frequently during adolescence or pregnancy where there is rapid tissue expansion and in clinical situations associated with corticosteroid excess. Heralding their onset is the appearance of parallel inflammatory streaks aligned perpendicular to the direction of skin tension. Despite a considerable amount of investigative research, the pathogenesis of striae remains obscure. The interpretation of histologic samples - the major investigative tool - demonstrates an association between dermal lymphocytic inflammation, elastolysis, and a scarring response. Yet the primary causal factor in their aetiology is mechanical; either skin stretching due to underlying tissue expansion or, less frequently, a compromised dermis affected by normal loads. In this paper, we investigate the pathogenesis of striae by addressing the coupling between mechanical forces and dermal pathology. We develop a mathematical model that incorporates the mechanical properties of cutaneous fibroblasts and dermal extracellular matrix. By using linear stability analysis and numerical simulations of our governing nonlinear equations, we show that this quantitative approach may provide a realistic framework that may account for the initiating events. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.

Original publication




Journal article


Mathematical Biosciences

Publication Date





141 - 147