Stretch Marks: Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Stretch marks, medically known as striae are narrow streaks or lines that appear on the surface of an overstretched skin, giving it an off-colour hue which a lot of people often find disfiguring. While it is true that stretch marks tend to disappear over time, they hardly ever disappear completely. Furthermore, stretch marks are quite common in pregnancy where they are referred to as striae gravidarum and commonly appear on the belly, hips, buttocks and around the armpits. It is worthy of note that stretch marks in themselves do not pose any risk to health although some consider it a blemish on their skin.

Here are a few things you need to know about stretch marks.

1. What causes stretch marks?

Stretch marks often result from tearing of the dermis due to rapid stretching during rapid growth or weight gain. The dermis is the layer of the skin that provides its resilience such that no stretch mark can form as long as the dermis remains intact. In addition, increase in cortisone levels may contribute to stretch marks by interfering with the production of connective tissue fibres such as collagen and elastin. Conditions associated with appearance of stretch marks include rapid weight gain, pregnancy, adolescent growth spurts and excessive use of steroid medications in form of creams or pills. Connective tissue diseases such as Marfan and Ehlers-Danlos syndromes may also cause stretch marks.

2. Stretch marks and Pregnancy

It's no news that stretch marks are very common in pregnancy and affect approximately 90% of pregnant women during this period. Also, it's been observed that stretch marks are more likely among young women, espeially in their first pregnancy. Factors such as mechanical distension from sudden weight gain and normal hormonal changes of pregnancy have been implicated in the development of striae. Such hormones include cortisol, estrogen and relaxin which are higher in pregnancy.

3. What are the symptoms?

Stretch marks usually begin as reddish or purple streaks on 'fatty' parts of the body and eventually turn lighter almost fading away. Occasionally, they may be accompanied by itching or a burning sensation as well as emotional distress from the cosmetic disfigurement.

4. Can stretch marks be treated?

Although various treatment strategies have been employed in the treatment of stretch marks, none has proved very effective in completely eradicating these ugly marks. However, treatments such as laser therapy, microdermabrasion, glycolic acid and topical tretinoin may help to reduce the prominence of these marks.

5. Preventing stretch marks

While it is true that stretch marks may not be preventable in conditions such as pregnancy due to the physiological changes normally associated with it, a lot can still be done in preventing stretch marks in persons who are not pregnant. For instance, regular exercise and healthy diets are key in preventing the stretch marks that usually accompany overweight and obesity. In the same vein, people should avoid prolonged use of steroid creams and pills which tend to damage the skin leading to stretch marks.

In conclusion, considering the mental torture these ugly scars can cause a person who has them, it is best to note that they are better prevented than cured since there is no cure!

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osayande eguakun

great and helpful