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High-resolution epiluminescence colorimetry of striae distensae


*Corresponding author, Department of Dermatopathology, CHU Sart Tilman, B-4000 Liège, Belgium, tel. +32 43662408; fax +32 43662976; E-mail:


Background  Colours of striae distensae are often different from that of the surrounding skin. A close look using dermoscopy discloses distinct patterns of melanized networks at these sites. The aim of the study was to design a method of high-∖resolution analytical analysis of the skin colours using the combination of photographic dermoscopy and small field reflectance colorimetry.

Methods  Clinical photographs were taken from striae distensae and their surrounding skin using a Dermaphot® (Heine Optotechnik, Hersching, Germany). A final magnification of 125× was obtained on paper photographs. The reflectance colorimeter Visi-Chroma VC-100 (Biophotonics, Lessines, Belgium) was used to measure colours of the pigmentary networks in the L*a*b* system. Differential colour parameters (ΔE*ab, ΔL*, Δa*, Δb*) were calculated for each case between the lesional and the surrounding normal skin, and between the melanized reticulated pattern and the enclosed lighter areas.

Results  Objective colorimetric assessments distinguished four distinct types, namely striae albae, striae rubrae, striae caeruleae and striae nigrae. The latter peculiar hyperpigmented type of striae distensae was specifically identified by epiluminescence examination in dark-skinned subjects. The fine-melanized honeycomb network present on the adjacent intact skin was reshaped inside striae in a streaky pattern perpendicular to the striae axis. Strong linear correlations were found between all combinations of ΔL* and Δb* evaluating colours of the reticulated and the honeycomb alveolar patterns both inside and outside the striae distensae. By contrast, no correlations were found between Δa* and the other colorimetric parameters.

Conclusion  The direct and/or indirect influences of melanocyte mechanobiology appear to have a prominent effect on the various colours of striae distensae.