Stretch marks are long, narrow streaks, stripes, or lines that run perpendicular to maximum lines of tension in the skin. It is medically known as striae distensae.
Stretch marks begin as flat reddish or purple lines on a skin that has been overstretched. The affected areas are soft to touch and appear empty as slightly depressed white streaks over time. They are most likely to appear in places where larger amounts of fat are stored.
Common Causes of Stretch marks
Stretch marks are caused by stretching of the skin.
- Pregnancy: Most women experience stretch marks especially during the the last trimester due to the rapid growth of their stomach and/or breasts during pregnancy. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can also play a role in additional stretch marks.
- Weight Gain: Stretch marks occur as a result of rapid weight gain or growth spurts during puberty causing teenage stretch marks. The skin literally does not have enough time to adjust and stretch during these periods of growth, thus causing stretch marks.
- Weight Training: Those who body build or experience rapid muscle growth may also notice stretch marks due the same reasons mentioned above.
- Medication Use: Pills, creams, lotions or other medications that contain cortisone or steroids can cause stretch marks.
- Diseases or Conditions: An adrenal gland diseases can cause stretch marks on the entire body. Example, Cushing’s syndrome.
Its severity is affected by several factors, including genetic tendency, degree of stress on the skin and cortisone level. Cortisone- a hormone produced by the adrenal glands- weakens elastic fibers in the skin.An increase in cortisone levels can increase the probability of stretch marks by reducing the skin’s flexibility. It does this by affecting the dermis which is the resilient middle tissue layer that helps to keep the skin in shape.
High level of cortisone in the dermis prevents the fibroblasts from forming collagen and elastin fibers, necessary to keep rapidly growing skin taut. This can create a lack of supportive material as the skin is stretched, and lead to dermal and epidermal tearing. This tearing, in turn, produces scarring which over time tend to atrophy and lose pigmentation to form stretch marks. No stretch marks will form as long as there is support within the dermis.
Stretch marks aren’t painful or harmful, but some people feel distressed about the way it looks.
Stretch marks don’t all look alike. They vary depending on how long one have had them, what caused them, where they are on the body, and the skin type.
Common variations include:
- Indented streaks or lines in the skin
- Pink, red, blue or purple streaks
- Bright streaks that fade to a lighter colour
- A streak on the arms, hands, abdomen, breasts, hips, buttocks, or thighs
- Streaks covering large areas of the body.
We have learned what causes stretch marks, it’s time to talk about how to prevent stretch marks. Daily use of lotions or creams will not completely eliminate your chances of getting stretch marks. The surest way to reduce the chances of getting stretch marks is to maintain a healthy weight.
Avoid gaining too much by eating well and exercising. This not only minimizes stretch marks but also helps to improve your overall health and lessen your chance of weight gain and stretch marks.
Treatment can make stretch marks fade, but it won’t completely remove them. Some measures to be taken includes:
Adequate intake of Vitamin A: Vitamin A is known as a retinoid. Retinoids make skin appear smoother and more youthful. They’re used in many over-the-counter topical cosmetic creams. A diet rich in foods such as carrots and sweet potatoes can help you increase your vitamin A levels.
Use of Aloe Vera: Little clinical evidence exists for aloe vera as a stretch mark cure, pure aloe vera is both a natural healing agent and a skin softener. This makes it an ideal home remedy to try for stretch marks.
Apply pure aloe vera from a plant to your stretch marks daily after your shower.
Prescription medicine and use of skin care products containing Hyaluronic acid and Tretinoin. In studies, these two ingredients have shown to offer some relief. Collagen is the protein in your skin that helps it to keep its shape and appear healthy. As we age, collagen decreases in our face and our bodies.
Use of Clinical treatment such as:
- Chemical peel
- Laser therapy
Stretch marks are not something to worry about. Even though a lot of people tend to worry about it, we believe it is just unfounded fear. Yes, it might affect how you look and cause you to stress out, but in the end, there is nothing much to worry about.
You can speak to our doctors from the comfort of your home or office about any issues (both physical or emotional) that you are facing with your stretch marks. You can call us on our toll-free number 08000HEALTH or download our mobile app here www.healthconnect247.com/download
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