The most common side effect of topical corticosteroid use is skin atrophy. All topical steroids can induce atrophy, but higher potency steroids, occlusion, thinner skin, and older patient age increase the risk. The face, the backs of the hands, and intertriginous areas are particularly susceptible. Resolution often occurs after discontinuing use of these agents, but it may take months. Concurrent use of topical tretinoin (Retin-A) % may reduce the incidence of atrophy from chronic steroid applications. 30 Other side effects from topical steroids include permanent dermal atrophy, telangiectasia, and striae.
What works: Retin-A cream. It's most effective on newer, red marks, but steer clear of it if you're pregnant or nursing. "Retin-A builds up collagen, the firming fibers that were broken when skin was stretched," Dr. Jaliman explains. Side effects include temporary redness and flaky, dry skin. Microdermabrasion -- a procedure in which tiny crystals are blasted against your skin to remove the top layer and stimulate collagen production -- can treat older stretch marks. In addition, the FDA recently approved a new laser treatment that adds pigment to older, lighter stretch marks so they blend into surrounding skin.