Stretch marks, as the name suggest; appears when the skin is over stretched. These marks can also appear when the body loses its ability to stretch (use of certain steroids). Both the conditions affect the skin elasticity. As a result, white, red (turn pale over a period of time) or purple streaks appear on the buttocks, armpits, stomach, thighs and chest.
Many factors influence the appearance of stretch marks, also known as Striae distensae:
- Elevated levels of Cortisone hormone (produced by the Adrenal gland) play a pivotal role in the appearance of stretch marks.
- Stretch marks are common during pregnancy. As the foetus grows in size, the skin tends to stretch more and more. This stretching provides sufficient space to the developing foetus. A hormonal imbalance can also mark the appearance of stretch marks during this period. In some, the stretch marks appear after pregnancy.
- Stretch marks are sure to appear when a person experiences a sudden change in the body weight (weight gain or loss). These marks can also be seen in children who are in their growing phase (teenagers).
- Use of Corticosteroids (steroid hormones produced by the adrenal cortex) can leave your body with the unwanted stretch marks. It is advisable to use corticosteroids (pills or cream) under medical supervision.
- Stretch marks may be an outcome of some genetic disorders such as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Marfan's Syndrome. Striae distensae can appear in people with Cushing's Syndrome (the adrenal gland produces the hormone, Glucocorticoids in excess)
Stretch marks often affect person's confidence. Most people find stretch marks extremely annoying and embarrassing. They try every possible trick under the sun to camouflage and get rid of the unwanted marks.
The stretch marks are generally harmless and can be treated:
- Drink plenty of water. It is important to keep the skin hydrated. Bio oils, Vitamin E enriched oils, certain creams, can effectively fades the appearance of stretch marks. Use of moisturisers containing Cocoa Butter and Shea Butter will speed up the fading process.
- Loss or breakdown of collagen protein (fibrous protein) can result in stretch marks. For stretch marks that are not very old, Tretinoin cream comes across as a huge relief. Application of Tretinoin cream helps in the restoration of collagen protein. For pregnant women, it is best to avoid this cream.
- In case the stretch marks are a little older, a person can go for Microdermabrasion.
- Another great technique is the Pulsed Dye Laser Therapy. This therapy works by enhancing the growth of elastin and collagen protein.
All the preventive measures and treatments can help to fade the stretch marks. However, none can guarantee complete disappearance of the marks. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a dermatologist.