There are many ways in which the beauty of the skin may get tampered. One primary contributor to the unpleasant looks of the skin is the presence of stretch marks. Stretch marks are bound to affect the pleasant appearance of the skin and tarnish the good looks. Hence, it is highly obvious that the existence of stretch marks on the skin is a matter of concern for people. These stretch marks might dampen the self-esteem and make people feel quite uncomfortable about their looks. There are even chances that in certain cases, stretch marks might even contribute to stress and depression in the people’s minds.
What Are Stretch Marks
Stretch marks are lines which appear on the surface of the skin. The color of the stretch marks is different from that of the natural skin color and hence their appearance gets highlighted, thus leaving the skin look unattractive. Stretch marks are usually thin and long streaks on the skin surface. Each stretch mark is narrow but because of the occurrence in large quantity, all the stretch marks present on the skin in an area tend to hamper the pleasant appearance of normal skin. Stretch marks appear to be indented. Scientifically they are also referred to as ‘striae’. Stretch marks seem to present themselves as a sort of scarring on the skin with an entirely different complexion that separates them from the regular skin hues. Stretch marks appear in the pattern of slim channels or grooves in close proximity to one another. Almost in all the cases, stretch marks might not pose a hazard but they are always a cosmetic menace. When the skin is stretched towards the extreme, like when pregnant, or sudden weight loss or when puberty hits. When you have extreme weight loss, the stretch marks are more visible. When stretch appear, they are reddish purple in color and as the marks start to get older, they turn into white lines which may not disappear. Basically, there are three layers to the skin namely, epidermis, dermis, hypodermis. The epidermis is the top most layer of the skin while the hypodermis being the deepest one. When, the connective tissue between dermis layer of the skin is stretched excessively that is beyond its elasticity, then the tissues tears down resulting in the scarring of the skin. Initially, the skin in that part is reddish or purple in color but as the scarring gets older, it turns pale white color. In fact there are many more reasons why stretch marks appear on the body. The paragraph given below lists down the various aspects of stretch marks.
Some Facts To Know
Stretch marks have unique qualities and therefore not all of those marks are the same. People must understand that they are not just marks on the skin but there is more to know about the various aspects of stretch marks. Unlike common belief, stretch marks don’t appear only in women. Even men may have to encounter stretch marks due to various reasons. It is also a notable fact that stretch marks are not restricted to a single place on the body, they might appear at different places due to various reasons. Also, stretch marks come in various hues because they have the tendency to change colors over a period of time. They can be cited in red, purple, white, silver, or gray hues on the skin. Usually, people have an understanding that stretch marks occur only when the skin expands or stretches but that’s completely incorrect. This is because there are quite a number of reasons behind the origination of stretch marks. Another aspect about stretch marks is that skinny people are not immune to them. People assume that stretch marks are the traits that are to be found only on people with considerable weight, but it has been observed that even skinny people are equally prone to the reception of stretch marks.
Stretch marks might appear on the skin due to a distinct number of reasons. The main contributor to the cause of stretch marks is the stretching of the skin. The skin tends to stretch due to the presence of higher levels of the cortisone hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisone functions by weakening the elastic fibers in the skin and this gives rise to stretch marks. Stretch marks can be very commonly observed in women during pregnancy. Once the skin of a woman starts stretching to accommodate the baby, it ends up creating numerous stretch marks over the abdominal area. Not only grownups, but even young people are highly susceptible to stretch marks. Teenagers have a high chance of getting stretch marks as well because it is the time period of their growth years and there is a chance for stretching of the skin. Apart from this, stretch marks are highly visible on people who are obese or have experienced a rapid weight gain. Even people who have undergone weight loss also tend to develop stretch marks because of the changing skin shape. Sometimes, stretch marks are caused even on the bodies of athletes and weightlifters as they are prone to stretching of the skin due to constant workouts. Even genetic reasons contribute to the occurrence of stretch marks. Stretch marks appear on people who have a family history for the same. In some cases, certain medications might also be the cause of stretch marks.
How Do They Occur
Stretch marks have a tendency to occur on the skin at different parts of the body. Stretch marks can appear on places like abdomen, upper arms, breasts, thighs, buttocks, and shoulders. Initially before the appearance of stretch marks, the skin region where they shall occur would become very thin and fragile and also get flattened. After that, stretch marks begin to appear like patches of lines with a wrinkly appearance. Stretch marks occur due to the overstretching of the connecting fibers in the dermis of the skin. The rapid stretching of the skin affects the collagen production levels, thus giving way to the occurrence of stretch marks. At the beginning, they make themselves visible in bright pink or purple or blue or red streaks because of the appearance of blood vessels through the tears in the dermis. But, over a period of time, they change their appearance to gray or white or silver color with a glossy look as the blood vessels contract and the fat beneath the skin becomes visible. There is no reason to be worried about stretch marks because there are a prolific number of solutions to eliminate stretch marks from the skin. How to Get Rid of Blackheads
Knowing Stretch Marks
Stretch marks, also called as striae, are long and narrow strips or line-like marks that are developed on the skin and which differ in both colour and context from the surrounding skin. The stretch marks are generally found to be red or purple, but as they fade with time, they turn into white lines. As mentioned previously, the problem of stretch marks can happen to anyone. The problem is also very common and not severe but people, more commonly women, rather turn anxious due to their occurrence. The stretch marks can occur at multiple places on the body including the back, hips, thighs, breasts, outer stomach, arms, and legs. The most common stage in the development of the human body when the stretch marks occur is puberty. During puberty, 70% of the females find stretch marks on their skin while only 40% of the males find them in their body.
When do they occur?
Basically, there are three layer to the skin namely, epidermis, dermis, hypodermis. The epidermis is the top most layer of the skin while the hypodermis being the deepest one. When the connective tissue between dermis layer of the skin is stretched excessively that is beyond its elasticity, then the tissues tears down resulting in the scarring of the skin. This medical condition can be seen due to the following reasons: Pregnancy – During the latter part of pregnancy, the stretching marks come into existence. During pregnancy, the body releases hormones which help in softening of the pelvic ligaments. These hormones affect the skin fibers as well making them soft and hence increasing the possibility of stretch marks. Puberty– When puberty is hit, the body undergoes massive changes. Due to sudden and rapid growth in the body, the skin tends to show stretch marks. For males, the common parts to show the stretch mark signs are shoulders or back while for women, the condition can be seen on thighs, breasts or hips. Obesity– As mentioned earlier, the marks appear when there is rapid stretching and contraction of the skin. When there is a sudden increase in the fats in your body, skin stretches excessively, making the marks to come in existence. Rapid gain weight– Do note, there is a huge difference between obesity and weight gaining. Obesity is also weight gaining but only the fats are being increased at an exponential rate while gain weight can be muscular gain as well as fats. So, even bodybuilders and athletes develop stretch marks due to the sudden increase in the muscles. Medical conditions– Marfan’s and Cushing syndromes are two such conditions which may lead to marks on the body. Marfan syndrome is a genetic disease which causes excessive weakness and weight loss leading to decreased elasticity of the skin. As for the Cushing syndrome, the syndrome causes overproduction of stress hormones which may lead to weight gain especially in the abdomen area. Due to these marks, the skin becomes thinner, fragile and sensitive making it more prone towards infections and bruises. This disease is more common in women. Fortunately, in 90% cases, the disease can be treated and cured. Corticosteroids– Due to prolonged and large usage of corticosteroid creams, the results might be the stretch mark visibility. These creams are used to treat eczema, but when overused, the skin where the cream is applied gets thinner making prone to the scarring on the skin.
Causes of Stretch Marks
The stretch marks are caused by the activity in the dermis, which is the middle layer of the skin. When the connective tissue in the dermis begins to stretch beyond its capability, the tissue breaks thereby causing stretch marks on the skin. The stretching of the tissues in the dermis is mainly caused due to the rapid growth of the body and the expansion and contraction of the skin which leads to the overstretching of the skin. Also, the initial red or purple colour of the stretch marks is because of the blood vessels in the body. There are numerous reasons why the stretch marks are caused. The occurrence of these marks can be linked to various reasons: Genetic factors Inherited defects Water intake Previous medical conditions Family history And many more. Mentioned earlier, the probability of marks causing in women are more than the male counterparts. Why women have more probability is being discussed in the coming paragraph. People with more body mass index (BMI) especially women are more vulnerable to the marks. Apart from the biological mechanism of the formation of stretch marks, they occur in humans due to several reasons. These include the maternal aging, hormonal changes in the body, pregnancy in females, gestation period, BMI factors, genetic factors and more. These are some of the common circumstances that lead to the occurring of stretch marks on the skin. Sometimes stress and other surrounding factors also regulate the probability of you having stretch marks. Also, medical conditions do govern the cause of scarring. As we get through the cause of the marks, let’s discuss on how and when the marks are seen.
Signs and symptoms of stretch marks
Stretch marks are long lines or streaks on the skin which are visible because of sudden stretching of the skin. Anyone can develop stretch marks, though it is more common in women. The stretch marks can be seen on all around the body but it is usually common on stomach, thighs, breasts, lower back. Before the skin develops stretch marks, the skin may appear thin and reddish. Also, the skin where the scarring develops feel itchy and irritated. These are usually the first signs of having stretch marks in the area. The itchy skin will further develop wrinkles and turn into reddish-brown, pink, purple or red, depending on the skin color. When these symptoms appear, be assured to have stretch marks in the area. The marks are generally long streaks on the skin which have the above mentioned colors initially but as time passes, the color changes to pale white and later on they may not be noticeable as well. It might take years to have the marks being unnoticeable.
Tests and diagnosis
Stretch marks are easily treatable and can be diagnosed based on the skin examination and the medical history associated with the skin. Doctors depending on the skin examination results will advise you on the treatment. You should update the doctor with the current medical condition to gain maximum impact from the given treatment being received. Various tests and treatments are available to get rid of stretch marks. Though the marks aren’t harmful to the body as they do not have any further medical conditions attached with them. In very rare cases do the marks need only monitoring and further testing. Creams and lotions are still available so that people who feel uncomfortable with the marks on the skin can treat them.
Treatment and Prevention
The problem of stretch marks is among the most common medical and cosmetic problems that are found in people. It can happen to anyone and at multiple stages in the development of the body. The problem of stretch marks is also not a severe one but is still believed to be a deprivation of the skin and in cases, can be a cause of anxiety in people. There have been various methods that are used in the attempt to remove or prevent stretch marks, but none of them have shown absolute results. Stretch marks only fade over time and don’t completely disappear. Also, the extent of the reduction of their visibility depends on various factors including the method of treatment, nature of skin, sensitivity, and more.
Despite this, there have been a number of methods that have been devised to at least minimize the effect of stretch marks on the skin. Some of the conventional methods are natural and are skin friendly. But with time, technical methods have also been devised which in cases, have proved to be harmful to the skin. The natural methods which have been in use since ages have usually resulted in the slow diminishing of the marks. They mainly include the use of natural oils and creams. Some of them are as follows:
Use of Coconut Oil
The use of coconut oil has always been advised for various benefits. It is considered to be a healthy dermatology product. It is considered and believed to be extremely skin friendly and it can help reduce your stretch marks over time. The unique properties of the coconut oil helps you in healing the damaged skin. Coconut oil can be used by expectant mothers to ensure stretch marks don’t mark. Post pregnancy, simply using the coconut oil to massage the area is the best of all. Moreover, this is one of the effective methods in the entire set of remedies. You can see quick results within less time.
Use of Olive Oil
Olive oil is considered to be one of the most fruitful oils when it comes to health benefits. In cases of skin care and particularly stretch marks, in this case, olive oil tends to reduce the intensity of the marks but proved to be ineffective in reducing the frequency of their occurrence, especially during pregnancy. Rub some olive oil on the area you wish to see clean and gently massage the space for about 10-15 minutes. Then after, wrap the area. Here, cotton cloth is preferred. Now, use a hot water bottle or pack to give some heat to the area. This is expected to followed every day for about a month to see positive results.
Use of Almond Oil
The usage of almond oil is also considered a healthy practice when used for the skin. However, in the case of stretch marks, the use of almond oil was found out to be rather ineffective. It also only diminished the effect of marks and didn’t eradicate them. As for Almond Oil, a scrub is preferred. Take some almond oil and mix it with some sugar and salt. Post making the mixture, ensure that you carefully apply the same to the affected area and massage it for a few minutes. Continue doing the same for at least a month to see effective results.
Aloe Vera occurs as an ultimate solution to quite some skin issues. Here, you can simply apply Aloe Vera to the required area and leave it out for 15 minutes. Rinse it post the scheduled time. This can resolve the issue.
Being the best source of alpha hydroxy acids and vitamin C, Lemon is the perfect stretch mark removal remedy. Collagen present in vitamin C helps in healing the skin. Plus, this has been used as a remedy for tan removal too. All you need to do is cut a lemon and massage the affected area with parts of it. After 10 minutes, make sure to wash it with warm water.
Sugar, castor oil and lemon juice is one of the effective combinations to get rid of stretch marks. The essence contains elements that heals the broken skin. Now, apply the mixture to the place where you wish to see some shine. Massage it for a few minutes, considerably around 10-15 minutes. Then, wash it off with warm water. You can take up these home remedies in order to avoid stretch marks or in the basic stages. If you find, the remedies haven’t shown its magic or any other symptoms that are irrelevant to the stretch mark issue, do visit your doctor before things take an ugly turn. Home remedies are a solution but certain things, if need be, must be treated by procedures.
Recent Developments in Treatment of Stretch Marks
The conventional and natural methods of treatment have not proved to be effective in the removal and prevention of the marks, especially in the cases of pregnancy. However, with the help of both time and technology, there have been a few advances in the treatment methods of stretch marks. These are:
It is a very popular method in the present days in stretch marks treatment. It involves the brushing and polishing of the outermost layer of the skin and skin cells using a device. The method has resulted in positive results in improvement of skin irregularities and the removal of marks.
The use of lasers is also very common in the treatment of stretch marks these days. In this method, different types of laser are used (according to the skin type) and are applied over the marks. This method, however, should only be used after consulting a dermatologist as it can have side effects on the skin. These are some of the advanced common techniques apart from the conventional ones which are used in the treatment of stretch marks. However, the fact that stretch marks diminish over time on their own without external aid should convince you to not using treatment, until necessary. Apparently, stretch marks can seem scary, especially when you are experiencing it for the first time. But no, it is a simple thing and can be treated. Moreover, if the thought of investing in therapies and treatments scares you, there are other home remedies you can take up. Next time you have stretch mark issues, stop worrying and choose your solution.