his article is about stretch marks and its removal. Stretch mark is quite common and it affects a lot of people and I have come up with a few tips on how to achieve removal and have that beautiful skin you desire and deserve. Before we learn about treatments and skincare let’s learn a bit about stretch marks, its symptoms and causes.
Anyone can develop stretch marks but they tend to affect more women than men. If you look at your stomach, thigh, hip, breasts, upper arm, lower back or buttocks you may find indented streaks. These streaks which could be pink, red, black, blue or purple vary depending on how long you have had them, what caused them, your skin type and where they are on your body. Stretch marks are not painful or harmful, but most people do not like the way their skin looks with it. Stretch marks occur when there is skin stretching and the first sign to look out for is itchiness around the area where your skin is becoming thinner.
The skin consists of 3 layers and stretch marks form in the middle layer known as the dermis. As the body grows, the dermis stretches to accommodate growth hence, stretch marks. Their severity is affected by several factors.
CAUSES OF STRETCH MARKS
pregnancy: Pregnancy is one of the main cause of stretch marks. Research says 8 out of 10 women are affected. As pregnancy progresses and your baby bump starts to grow, the skin around your stomach is stretched to accommodate the growth. Weight gain may vary between women as how much weight you gain is dependent on your weight before pregnancy. But, it is important not to diet to lose weight during pregnancy. Also, hormonal changes in pregnancy can affect your skin and make you susceptible.
Puberty: Change can be difficult to transition past by teens especially when it comes to their bodies and looks. Stretch marks can be one of those changes. Rapid growth is typical in adolescent going through puberty. Stretch marks appear both in boys and girls as they grow and increase in body size and weight, but other factors can attribute to stretch mark in teens other than puberty. Factors like: genetic risk or family history, pregnancy, obesity or taking cortisol.
Medical conditions: Certain conditions or genetic disorder such as Cushing’s syndrome or Marfan syndrome can cause stretch marks.
Marfan syndrome is caused by a defect in the gene that enables the body to produce a protein that helps in giving elasticity and strength to connecting tissues.
Cushing syndrome happens when the body has too much of the hormone cortisol. This can be by taking oral cortisol of the body producing too much of it on its own.
So, Marfan syndrome can lead to decreased elasticity in the skin tissues and Cushing syndrome on the other hand can lead to large production of hormones that causes rapid weight gain and skin fragility both leading to stretch marks as they can occur when the skin is too thinned or stretched out.
Corticosteroid use: These are steroids used for a couple of underlying ailments. Prolonged use of corticosteroid can decrease the level of collagen in the skin. Collagen is a protein responsible for skin elasticity or stretchiness which breaks down as we age. This collagen strengthens and supports the skin and a reduced amount can increase the risk of stretch marks.
Weight gain or loss: when the body expands due to weight gain, the skin stretches to accommodate the body’s growth and when skin stretches it causes the middle layer of the skin (dermis) to tear resulting in stretch marks. It really makes sense to say that the skin can stretch during weigh gain causing stretch marks but how do you explain weight loss resulting in stretch marks? When losing weight, it usually results in excess skin and flabbiness and excess skin can weigh down other areas of skin resulting in stretching and tearing which leads to stretch marks.
Preventing stretch marks due to weigh gain or loss can be dependent on several lifestyle changes like:
Avoiding changes in diets: Integrating new diet plans should be introduced slowly such that the body doesn’t experience rapid change from gaining weight to losing it. Aim for slow and gradual weight gain.
Avoiding excess sugar intake: Too much sugar increases daily calories intake which can damage collagen leaving skin brittle and prone to tearing.
Getting proper nutrition: Planning meals with healthy proteins, vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy and flexible skin and body.
Drinking lots of water daily.
TREATMENTS AND REMOVAL OF STRETCH MARKS
Stretch mark removal products: Many stretch mark removal products are available over the counter. These products are cost effective and if frequently used, can reduce the appearance of or remove stretch mark streaks and discoloration. Example of such over the counter products are: Retinoid cream which is derived from vitamin A. Retinoids such a Tretinoin helps to rebuild collagen, the protein responsible for skin elasticity, making the marks look more like your skin tone.
Please speak to a pharmacist or a health care provider before use as Tretinoin can cause irritation and if you are pregnant or nursing as possible side effects may affect the baby.
Chemical peel: These are application of chemicals on the skin to damage skin thereby promoting new skin growth. New skin growth can make stretch marks become less visible and indented. Keep in mind that this chemical peel requires multiple treatments to have desired results so; the process can be expensive and take a while.
Light and laser therapies: Lasers and light treatments entail damaging affected area of skin with laser beam in order to promote skin regeneration on affected areas. This stimulates collagen growth and promotes elasticity. Many treatments maybe required and undergoing multiple sessions can be expensive.
Micro needling: This involves stimulating collagen with a hand held device attached with needles. This treatment has less risk of pigmentation than the laser therapy and it’s preferred for people with skin colour.
Since most factors that causes stretch marks are not always controllable, a good rule of thumb is to use preventive products daily and I hope you find these tips useful.
Remember to always contact a health care professional for prescribed treatments.