When we hear the term stretch marks, we often associate them with pregnant women or women in general. I was therefore surprised when I saw an advertisement online that featured men who had stretch marks. Perhaps, just like me, there is little that is known about this condition. One reason why so many people are not very concerned about it is that stretch marks are not a serious or life-threatening health problem. You can live with it without feeling any pain. However, stretch marks especially among women can be embarrassing. Understanding more about this condition can help you answer some of the frequently asked questions such as how to prevent stretch marks and how to remove stretch marks.
Stretch Marks Defined
Stretch marks are a form of skin scars that normally have an off-color hue and develop as a result of the tearing of the skin layer called the dermis. In dermatology, these marks are called striae. They initially appear as flat red lines which later on appear as overstretched and depressed white streaks on the skin. They are generally painless and are rarely a symptom of a serious medical problem. You usually can find stretch marks on breasts, chest, abdomen, thigh and groin.
Causes of Stretch Marks
- Genetics – a woman is more likely to develop stretch marks if her mother has also developed stretch marks during or after her pregnancy
- Rapid change in weight – rapid weight gain or loss causes the skin to stretch or adjust according to weight and it sometimes would leave stretch marks
- Puberty – hormonal changes and growth spurts during puberty may also result in stretch marks
- Bodybuilding – some body builders get stretch marks because their rapid muscle development causes their skin to stretch beyond its limits
- Certain medication – long-term use or heavy use of topical or oral corticosteroids may also lead to the formation of stretch marks
- Skin color – people with fair skin are more likely to develop stretch marks than those with darker skin
Stretch Marks Prevention
Stretch marks are something that is hard or nearly impossible to prevent. Perhaps the only way that they can be prevented is to maintain normal weight. As for women, stretch marks occur between 50 and 90 percent of pregnancies as a result of stretching of the skin and hormonal changes. The application of lotion and other topical cream during pregnancy proves to be of little help in preventing these marks from developing.
Treatment for Stretch Marks
There is a wide range of treatment options for stretch marks, which include topical cream, lotion or ointment, but none proves to be effective in completely eliminating the stretch marks. Some people also resort to more aggressive treatments such as laser therapy which is more helpful in improving the appearance of stretch marks but rarely make the stretch marks disappear.
Understanding more about stretch marks can help us view this condition distinctively. There is no proven cure for stretch marks yet. Over time, they may fade and become less obvious but only in rare cases do they completely disappear. Fortunately, they do not cause serious health problems to those who have them.