A 14-year-old boy presented with multiple horizontal striae of varying length on the mid-back. His parents sought explanation for these lesions when the boy was seen by another physician who assumed that the lesions were a sign of physical abuse. On seeing the patient with his father, the diagnosis of pubertal growth striae was made. The history was unremarkable and no signs of Marfan syndrome or Cushing syndrome were detected. Linear focal elastosis, where the lesions are yellow and raised, was excluded. Only reassurance was necessary.
Transverse striae of the back are common among healthy young men.* They are characterised histologically by thinning of the overlying epidermis, with fine dermal collagen bundles arranged in straight lines parallel to the surface in the direction of the presumed stress. These adolescent growth striae may be mistaken for signs of physical abuse hence the importance of their recognition. There is no proven treatment but they become inconspicuous over time.
*Carr RD, Hamilton JF. Transverse striae of the back. Arch Dermatol 1969; 99: 26-30.
This page was last updated in August 2016.