Stretch marks, also called striae, are lines that develop on the abdomen and other areas of the body, and they form on the dermis or middle layer of the skin. Different layers of skin stretch and tear due to specific situations and as the tear appears the skin tries to heal and when the new tissue is unable to blend with the area it appears as stretch marks.
It is commonly thought to be caused by the stretching of the skin but some doctors believe that they appear because of the hormones associated with certain changes in your body. The marks usually occur when your body produces extra cortisone, the hormone that causes weight gain or weight loss. Stretch marks are often associated with pregnancy and that is why they are more common in women. But they can appear whenever your body is going through rapid changes such as during puberty or at times of great weight loss or gain.
If stretch marks start to appear when you are young, you can hope for them to go away after puberty. But the bad news is if you have got them as an adult, it is difficult to make them disappear. Even though they do not cause any health problems, they are considered to be cosmetic problems, where you are not able to expose the skin to stretch marks. They can fade in time and there are treatments to make them less visible in the initial stage. In their initial stage stretch marks are red or light purple in color and later they turn white or silver with deep indentations.
What are the Causes of Stretch Marks
Stretch marks typically appear after rapid weight gain or loss and they are common mostly during pregnancy and teen years when there is a spurt in growth that increases the level of steroid hormones. Pubescent girls get them on their newly growing breasts.
Stretch marks are caused by obesity and weightlifting. The fact is, muscle gain can also cause stretch marks. That is why many bodybuilders sometimes get them on their shoulders from rapid mass gain.
Genetic factors like defects in the connective tissues also cause stretch marks.
Stretch marks are also caused by taking oral corticosteroids, the use of topical creams or adrenal gland disease, or one of the several rare genetic disorders.
Prevention is the Key
90% of all women are affected by stretch marks and once they pass the initial stage, it is a little difficult to completely get rid of them. Trying to avoid rapid weight gain and loss will be a good start to prevent stretch marks. You have to keep your skin well moisturized during pregnancy and your teen years, so that your skin turns more pliant, plasticized, and stretches well. Moisturize the skin on your breasts, belly, shoulders, arms, hips, and buttocks, daily with moisturizers that contain the key ingredient cocoa butter or the key ingredient shea butter.
Treatments for Removing Stretch Marks
- You may wonder whether it is possible to remove stretch marks completely. Well, if you are a teen, your marks will disappear over time. For adults, stretch marks will fade over time but they will not vanish completely. The best way to combat stretch marks is to avoid weight gain and it is good to act as soon as possible, once you notice them.
- Lotions, creams, and other products can cover up your stretch marks and to help them fade, use creams that contain retinoids. Retinoid works well by increasing collagen and elastin production in the skin. Combining glycolic acid, a chemical peel, with retinoids can give better results. However, pregnant and nursing women should not use creams that contain retinoids.
- Laser treatment is a potential option for extensive stretch marks. There are different types of lasers that will work best on different types of stretch marks. You can see their result in three to five sessions.
- When you find widespread stretch marks they indicate that something is wrong so it is better to consult a doctor.
Also Read: Lower Back Pain and Pregnancy