Stretch Marks - Troubling Questions Finally answered
Stretch marks, also known as Striae, are lines, narrow streaks or stripes that appear as a form of scarring on the dermis of your skin. Usually, the dermis tear results from rapid growth, especially during or after pregnancy, growth spurts during adolescence or bodybuilding. Stretch marks are generally not painful, but the skin can get itchy when they start forming.
On which parts of your body you can get stretch marks?
Stretch marks can develop or appear on any body part. In most cases, they appear in areas where the skin gets stretched rapidly or excessively. These areas include:
- Thighs (inner and outer thighs)
- Upper arms
- Abdomen (especially around the navel)
Most pregnant women, about 50 to 90%, develop stretch marks around their abdomen and breasts due to rapid weight gain. Their skin stretches to accommodate growing baby. Their breasts may get stretch marks as they increase in size during the breastfeeding period. The sudden increase and reduction in size are inevitable and usually pose no health concerns.
Reasons why people develop Striae. Are they a bad thing?
Usually, there's nothing to worry about stretch marks. They are not painful and, in most cases, not associated with health conditions. The reasons why people develop striae might differ, but all revolve around sudden weight gain or loss. They include;
- Weight gain and lose
- Prolonged use of Corticosteroid lotions and creams
- Medical conditions
Weight gain should be gradual to help the skin stretch typically without exceeding its limits. Reduced levels of Collagen levels in the skin also cause the formation of stretch marks. This is because collagen supports and strengthens the skin, thus preventing it from tearing.
Unless you are a bikini model, you shouldn't worry about stretch marks. In most cases, they are harmful and are considered a cosmetic concern rather than a health problem. Unless you have an underlying medical condition, Cushing's syndrome and Marfan syndrome, you shouldn’t worry too much.
Remedies and treatments for Stretch Marks
Stretch marks are ordinarily temporary and fade away with time. Usually, antenatal and postnatal stretch marks will start disappearing from 6 to 12 months after delivery. Mothers should therefore stay calm and give it time to resolve. With time, the lines turn glossy, white or silvery appearance which is way better than the pink appearance when they first form/ appear.
Additionally, pregnant women should aim to gain weight slowly by eating correctly without compromising their nutrition to avoid getting carried away by the cravings. A proper diet rich in Vitamins A and C, minerals like Iron and Zinc and a sufficient water intake should help. After all, prevention is better than cure.
People using Corticosteroids should avoid using them excessively to avoid weakening their skin due to reduced collagen levels.
People with underlying conditions like obesity. Cushing’s syndrome and Marfan syndrome should seek medical intervention. The stretch marks should disappear with time after receiving help.
Most treatments and ointments, according to studies, have not shown to provide long-lasting improvements on all skin types. There are several treatments in the form of lotions, creams, cosmetic surgery, and gels that have been proposed, but there is little evidence to support their effectiveness in curing or clearing stretch marks.
Most people with stretch marks on body parts like upper and lower arms and breasts conceal them by wearing makeup. Applying makeup helps with appearance concerns by giving the skin a consistent hue.
Stretch marks variations and populations.
Stretch marks can appear in different colours, sizes and shapes. The most common ones are pinkish-white, reddish-brown and light brown, but they can also appear purple, red or white. The color may differ from one skin color to the other.
Stretch marks are more common in women due to their association with childbirth. Also, most first time moms are more likely to get stretch marks than those having babies. It is, however, worth noting that not all women get stretch marks during pregnancy.
Stretch marks and cellulite
While cellulite is an appearance of uneven skin due to the accumulation of fats beneath your skin, it can be as disturbing as stretch marks. The two are the opposite of each other, but cellulite does not lead to scarring of the skin.
The remedy to cellulite can be getting rid of the fatty cells accumulating under your skin, which requires one to be extra careful not to end up with stretch marks. Remember, stretch marks can appear as a result of overstretched or shrinking skin.
While stretch marks are nothing to worry about, they are scars on your skin that are permanent like most scars. They fade away with time, which makes them less conspicuous or visible and easy to live with. Unless you have an underlying medical condition, you need not stress over them, as this is just one of the many sacrifices we encounter as mothers.
As always, we'd like to emphasise that the contents of the article is not a substitute for medical consultation.