Stretch Marks: Causes, How to Treat it

Stretch marks are those type of marks that develops on our skin, when the skin stretches or shrinks quickly. It can arise as a result of rapid weight gain such as seen in pregnancy, obesity, or weight changes seen in weightlifting.

Everyone you ask will tell you that, they would love to have a body that is without these marks or any blemish, but unfortunately, the human body is not made up of glass, rather, it is made of fluids, muscles, flesh and so on.

Almost everyone dreads to find these thick lines called stretch marks on our skin. Unlike Pimples (acne), this is one condition that very few people will escape having. It equally affects both males and females of all ages.

See also: Pimples: How to manage them

So, before anyone tries to body shame you into believing that you should not wear a swimsuit or swim trunk because of these marks, you should know that over 80 per cent of people in the world have these stretch marks. Just that in some persons, they are very clear while in others, they are faint.

What is a stretch mark?

Stretch marks medically known as striae distensae, are those type of marks that develops on our skin, when the skin stretches or shrinks quickly. During this rapid stretching/shrinking of skin, some components of the skin called collagen and elastin rupture and as the skin attempts to heal, it can form a stretch mark.

Stretch marks
Image Credits: Guardian Ng

What causes stretch marks?

They can arise as a result of our skin stretching and expanding quickly and beyond its limit. This leads to the development of tiny tears in the supporting layers of the skin. Examples of this rapid weight gain such as seen in pregnancy, obesity, or weight changes seen in weightlifting.

These scars are likely to start being obvious in puberty (due to the rapid growth that happens in this period), after rapid weight loss or gain, or when weight training and you have rapid muscle growth (now you know why weight lifters get them). Also, applying a steroid cream to your skin for a long time can cause stretch marks.

Like any scar, stretch marks are permanent, but treatment may make them less noticeable. According to studies done, cocoa butter, vitamin E, and olive oil were not effective in reducing the appearance of these marks. Researchers also found many of the creams, lotions, and gels sold to treat stretch marks did not help all of the time and some don’t seem to help at all.

But these tips can help you if you want to use any stretch mark cream or lotion to treat your scars.

How to Treat Stretch Marks

  1. Use the product on early stretch mark: Treatment seems to have little effect on mature stretch marks.
  2. Massage the product into your stretch mark: Taking time to massage the product gently into your skin may make it more effective.
  3. Apply the product every day for weeks: Results take weeks to appear.

Some treatments that may help make stretch marks look better, but will not get rid of them include:

  1. Retinoid (often called tretinoin) creams – Are very useful but should not be used if you are pregnant.
  2. Hyaluronic acid – Our skin naturally contains hyaluronic acid and helps when applied on the skin.

Dermatologists can also use microdermabrasion, chemical peels and laser therapy to make stretch marks less noticeable, but they won’t get rid of stretch marks).

However, the best treatment for stretch marks is not to allow them form. To prevent this, Women especially have to be careful during pregnancy. Ensure that the body is properly hydrated by drinking plenty of water, which would help in increasing the elasticity of the skin and prevent these stretch marks from appearing.

Also, eat nutritious food to avoid gaining more weight than is necessary. Rapid weight gain is the main cause of stretch marks. A balanced diet is important to prevent this.

Finally, have an exercise routine that is regular and will help in maintaining your weight.

Did this make sense? Let me know.

Take charge of your health and skin.

Your Skin Sensei.

Feel free to Ask Questions Below.

Authors

  • Dr. Rebecca Omokaro (a.k.a Dr. HealthThenMore) is the founder of HealthThenMore, an online medical community for health professionals and co-founder of Progeny Cerebrum, a unique mentorship community for healthcare students and professionals. She is passionate about skin care and has invested years in studying how multiple skin care products work, having struggled with multiple skin breakouts as a teenager herself. As @dr.healththenmore, she teaches people how to care for their skins with natural and ethical skin care products as well as spread awareness of medical conditions that affect the skin. You can follow her on twitter on: @HealthThenMore

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