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Our skin is an amazing organ. The skin’s elasticity enables it to expand with weight gain without wounding the flesh. However, for some people who experienced abrupt body mass changes, they may notice a skin flaw on the parts where the skin has been extremely stretched.
Stretch marks look like discoloured squiggles on the skin and can look unappealing.
If you have been looking for ways to get rid of this skin condition, you are reading the right article. In this piece, we are giving you the facts you need to know about stretch marks and different methods that may help in getting rid of them.
What is a stretch mark?
A stretch mark is actually a form of scar that looks like a stripe or a line that appears on the skin.
How do stretch marks form on the skin?
Stretch marks develop on areas of the body where the skin is exceedingly stretched in a quick manner. This may also occur when the skin shrinks abruptly. The marks are a result of the rupture that happens in the dermis or middle layer of the skin that affects the two components which support the skin’s overall health: collagen and elastin. The middle or elastic layer of the skin tears in order to cope up to the change in the skin’s structure.
What can cause stretch marks?
There are several factors that can cause stretch marks:
- Pregnancy – For women, this is the most common cause of stretch marks. As the abdomen stretches to accommodate the growing fetus in the womb, stretch marks can develop.
- Puberty – Growth spurts during an adolescent’s puberty stage can cause stretch marks if the skin is subjected to rapid overstretching.
- Weight gain or loss – Stretch marks are common especially for overweight or obese individuals.
- Use of topical corticosteroid – Corticosteroid medications can cause the skin to thin. Extended use of these creams can reduce the amount of collagen present in the skin. Collagen is an important element as it gives skin strength and support. When the collagen reduces, the risk of developing stretch marks becomes high.
- Breast enhancements – Enlargement of breasts with the use of implants can cause the skin to develop stretch marks.
- Medical conditions – Certain medical conditions like Cushing’s syndrome and Marfan syndrome can cause stretch marks. Cushing’s syndrome triggers the body to create more hormones. An imbalance in the hormones may lead to weight gain and brittleness of the skin. On the other hand, Marfan syndrome weakens the skin’s pliability resulting to stretch marks.
Interestingly, the tendency to develop stretch marks is observed more on women than men. Likewise, stretch marks are common among members of a family that has a history of this skin condition.
What are the parts of the body that can be affected by stretch marks?
Stretch marks commonly on the following areas:
How can stretch marks be identified?
Stretch marks appear as long, discoloured streaks on the skin. Depending on a person’s skin tone, stretch marks can either be pink, purple, red, reddish-brown, or brown in colour. During its onset, stretch marks can be raised.
Over time, the colour of stretch marks can diminish. Mature stretch marks can cause minor indentations on the skin.
Can stretch marks be prevented?
Keeping a healthy diet and a body weight that is ideal may prevent stretch marks. Hydrating the body is also very crucial as water helps in maintaining the elasticity of the skin. Incorporating food that is rich in vitamins and minerals is also recommended. Fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamins A and C can improve the skin.
Pregnant women should seek professional guidance from doctors in order to plan a healthy way of going through pregnancy without packing on weight instantly that can cause stretch marks.
What are the symptoms of stretch marks?
The skin may feel itchy during the onset of stretch marks. At the same time, the skin may appear thin and pink in colour.
How are stretch marks diagnosed?
To diagnose stretch marks, a dermatologist will need to do a thorough evaluation on the skin and a patient’s medical history.
Are stretch marks harmful to the body?
Patients seek treatment for stretch marks due to its unappealing appearance on the skin.
In general, stretch marks are not harmful to the body. More than its occurrence, doctors are most concerned about the possible medical condition causing the stretch marks, if the scarring is not brought about by weight gain or pregnancy.
Are stretch marks temporary or permanent?
Unfortunately, just like other scars, stretch marks are permanent. However, there are treatments available that can help make their appearance on the skin less obvious.
Left on its own, stretch marks can improve in its appearance and be less visible, though this may take several years to happen.
What are the available treatments for stretch marks?
There are several treatments available for stretch marks. Do remember that, despite some claims, there is not one treatment that can remove the existence of stretch marks completely from the skin.
The following are some treatments that may help fade stretch marks:
- Topical creams, gels, and lotions
- Prescription medicines
- Professional aesthetic treatments
Topical creams, gels, and lotions. Studies have been conducted to test a wide variety of topical creams, gels, and lotions specifically formulated to treat stretch marks. Results have found out that only a handful of these actually works in fading stretch marks. Researchers noted that these solutions are better used on the stretch marks at the earliest stage of their development, as their effectiveness does not change on mature stretch marks. Pregnant women should also consult a doctor prior to using topical medications to ensure that all the ingredients of the product are safe for the infant in the womb.
Prescription medicines. Application of medicines that have hyaluronic acid and tretinoin as active ingredients have shown some improvements when used on stretch marks during the early stage. Retinol is also helpful, although this can be harmful to pregnant women.
Professional aesthetic treatments. To see quicker results in fading stretch marks, the different professional services of dermatologists can be your best option. Do note that these procedures, as proven by studies, only lighten stretch marks. Some of the treatments that dermatologists use are:
- Chemical peel
- Laser Therapy
Doctors may recommend a combination of any of the abovementioned procedures to get the optimum results. These kinds of a procedure can also expose a patient to risks and side effects. Some of which are skin bruising, inflammation, and discolouration after one session of the treatment. Patients need not worry as these side effects and risks are only temporary. They may be gone within hours or the succeeding days after the procedure done on the skin.
Always remember that stretch marks are also scars. If you are self-conscious and are worried of getting stretch marks on your skin, it is advisable that you make a habit of taking precautionary measures to avoid their formation on your skin. When seeking for treatments in order to make stretch marks less noticeable, patients are highly advised to get a consultation with a dermatologist so that the proper skin care treatment can be administered to the skin.