Why it is so hard to treat stretch marks?
Stretch Marks are created in a deeper layer of the skin. Using oils and lotions is just simply not enough to address the problem, as those types of treatments only provide a temporary filling at the surface level that is gone within minutes.
Stretch marks can be a problem that plagues many, and is surprisingly common. And we don't like to use the word plague lightly. Even with the many body-positive messages out there, stretch marks are still considered the number one concern for self-confidence for many.
What are Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks, or striae as they are known in the dermatological world, are visible striped line markings on the skin formed when skin ‘stretches’. They are actually a type of scarring that occurs in the dermis, the middle layer of the skin.
The striped appearance can range in color and texture depending on the age of the marks. Initially, newer stretch marks are usually red, pink or brown and can have a raised appearance, and they often fade to purple or blue before turning a silvery white color as they age. Some stretch marks can flatten out or even become sunken compared to the surrounding skin.
They nearly always appear in multiples of long stripes, leading some to affectionately refer to them as ‘tiger stripes'.
What Causes Stretch Marks?
Quick growth or weight changes can occur at a rate too fast for the skin to keep up, and the resulting tears that occur in the dermis cause the visible marks we know as stretch marks.
Skin is elastic, but it does have its limits. The dermis contains a network of connective tissue fibers that give elasticity and structure to the skin.
This rapid growth can overstretch and break the fiber network in the dermis which leads to visible exposure of the underlying tissue and blood vessels through the dermis – which is why new stretch marks have a red/pink/purple appearance. It eventually fades to white as the blood vessels contract and the fatty tissue is left behind.
Hormones can also play a significant role in causing stretch marks, as they can affect collagen levels in the skin. Collagen is a protein found in the dermis and responsible for skin strength and elasticity; the less collagen you have, the more likely the dermis is to tear under conditions of rapid change.
Who is Susceptible to Getting Stretch Marks?
If your body is likely to undergo rapid changes in size, you are susceptible to stretch marks as the skin stretches with your body shape.
Pregnant women are particularly at risk of getting stretch marks around the belly as it expands and also around the hips and bum if they put on weight during their pregnancy. Altered hormone levels can also further weaken the skin.
Teenagers going through puberty are also at risk of getting stretch marks as the rapid growth associated with puberty can lead to expansion of the skin and stretch marks developing around the hips, bum, thighs, and breasts for females. Males are more likely to develop stretch marks in the upper arm region, shoulders, and back.
Bodybuilders and those dieting to lose weight quickly can also develop stretch marks as the body may change rapidly in size during these processes.
Finally, those who may be using corticosteroids at a heavy dosage or for prolonged periods may be susceptible to stretch mark formation as the use of the medication can decrease the amount of collagen in the dermis, making it less elastic.