Anyone can get stretch marks regardless of age, gender, life situation, health, etc. However, some of these factors can make you more prone to get stretch marks in many cases. They make their appearance as a result of over-stretching of the skin for an extended period.
This is how the collagen in the skin tears and causes cosmetic difficulties due to the appearance of silvery-white or pinkish lines in different areas of the body.
Beauty–consciousness is a natural weakness of man. Therefore, many people will go to extremes to improve their looks. The skin is regarded as the mirror of the human body and exhibits the mental, physical, mental, and emotional status of every person.
Consequently, skin care is generally considered of utmost importance in beauty care.
The amount of people visiting beauty clinics and dermatology offices is growing every day. Even though skin diseases have a nonexistent mortality rate, many people are concerned about skin problems on account of social disgrace.
A person with an ailment concerning an internal organ may not be as worried as another suffering from a skin condition because everyone can expressly see the skin problem in the form of deformity or disfigurement.
Composition Of The Skin
The 3 Layers Of The Skin
Epidermis -The outer layer called the epidermis. It is made up of keratinocytes and melanocytes.
Hypodermis – is the inner layer. It contains fat and connective tissues with blood vessels and nerves.
Dermis – is the layer between the above two. It consists of fibers made up of proteins such as elastin and collagen with a gel-like substance to fill the gap between all the protein fibers.
Collagen is a major protein that makes 80% of connective tissues. It acts as a glue between body cells. The rate of tissue restoration depends on the making of collagen. Conditions that hinder collagen production can slow wound healing.
Elastin is also a protein that controls the flexibility of the skin. Along with collagen and glycosaminoglycans, it produces connective tissue.
The human skin has numerous purposes, such as heat regulation, protection, excretion, water balance, etc.
It strengthens the deep body structures and can stretch to a remarkable degree because of the presence of elastic protein fibers in the dermis.
But the too fast expansion of the body parts causes severe stretching of the skin, resulting in the rupture of collagen and elastin fibers of the dermis.
This causes a somewhat depressed discoloration called stria atrophia or stretch marks. These marks are slightly pinkish and later become white or silvery in appearance.
Factors Affecting The Skin
Several components are closely associated with the quality of the skin. Skin color changes according to ethnic and hereditary factors. Healthy skin should be pliant and free from over-dryness. It should be free from sores such as papules, eruptions, pustules, macules, vesicles, etc.
The following factors are intimately associated with the quality of the skin:
- Hereditary factors
- Mental and emotional status
- Environmental factors
- General health
- Sensitivity towards external factors
- Food intake
- Water intake
- Mental and emotional state
- Life style
Synonyms For Stretch Marks
- Different words are used to mean stretch marks.
- Striae atrophicae
- Linea labicante.
- Stria gravidarum (stretch marks during pregnancy).
- Striae cutis distensae.
- Striae distensae.
- Lineae atrophicae.
Myths About Stretch Marks
- Only women get stretch marks.
- Only fat and pregnant women get stretch marks.
- They last forever.
- They increase as time goes on.
- They spread all over the body.
- Stretch marks indicate disease.
- They depict a loss of physical beauty.
- They can progress to leucoderma.
- They are contagious.
Facts About Stretch Marks
- Both obese and slim people can get stretch marks.
- About 70% of teenage girls get stretch marks.
- Medical treatment techniques do work but are expensive
- About 90% of pregnant women get stretch marks.
- Stretch marks can persist for a long time but later fade.
- Regular exercise limits stretch marks, whereas strenuous exercise, powerlifting, heavy weight lifting, and bodybuilding can produce stretch marks.
- Medical treatment techniques do work but are expensive.
- Laser Therapy and Chemical Peeling procedures can cause further scarring, produce pain, and make matters worse.
- Natural remedies and techniques have no side effects and are inexpensive.
How Are Stretch Marks Formed?
Stretch marks are somewhat depressed straight marks with different lengths and widths discovered on particular parts of the body in conditions like obesity, pregnancy, puberty, etc. due to the extreme stretching of the skin for an extended period.
It has previously been stated that the quality and vitality of the skin depend on particular factors like nutrition, general health, hydration, environmental conditions, hereditary factors, skincare, hygiene, healthcare, etc.
Healthy skin can be stretched to a certain extent, mainly when the enlargement of skin is slow-paced. But when the body surface areas increase in a short time, there will be excessive stretching of the skin resulting in the tearing of the elastin and collagen found in the dermis.
When these protein fibers rupture, some itching sensation may be felt, but no pain will be present. Along with the breaking of the fibers, there will also be small, dilated small blood vessels present in the skin, which result in purple or red stretch marks called stria rubra.
Later, with the progression of time, there will be a reconstruction of skin with loss of melanin in the afflicted area. This is what causes the stretch marks to become silvery-white in color.
In this phase, they are called stria alba. But, in such cases, they may look like dull, faded markings.
The length of stretch marks may differ, and their average width will be 1 to 10 mm. They are seen lateral to each other and make an angle of 90° in the same direction as the stretching of the skin.
These markings are created in the deep tissues of the skin, and steadily they develop on the skin surface. The familiar places are breasts, abdomen, thighs, shoulders, buttocks, etc.
Predisposing Factors Responsible for Causing Stretch Marks
Skin-conscious people are often worried about stretch marks, which can diminish the beauty of their skin. Stretch marks are formed when elastin fibers and collagen undergo a rupture. This takes place when the skin gets stretched excessively.
Stretch marks start in locations like the thighs, breasts, and abdomen as pinkish-colored linear markings. They later transform into silvery-white colored depressed lines and fade away slowly as time goes by.
People with a dark complexion tend to have white-colored stretch marks, whereas people with a fair complexion tend to have pink-colored stretch marks.
Important Factors That Affect the Occurrence of Stretch Marks
People with poor health may experience a loss of skin elasticity and strength.
People with dry skin have a tendency to be affected by stretch marks, whereas people with oily skin aren’t so affected by them.
Rapid climate changes can adversely affect the skin’s integrity.
The skin’s softness and elasticity levels are profoundly affected by the amount of water you consume. Consuming less water can make the skin turn dry, resulting in stretch marks that stay for an extended period of time.
People who consume excess fatty food may suffer from stretch marks because of a rapid increase in weight.
People may have faulty genetics to blame for their stretch marks. Women are more likely to face this problem if their mother has also had stretch marks.
People who lack ample exercise in their lifestyle may have increased fat deposits in their bodies and reduced muscle tone, which can cause stretch marks. Rigorous exercise regimens may also lead to stretch marks in people like bodybuilders and athletes.
A tiresome work schedule may cause the formation of stretch marks that diminish the body’s attractiveness.
Excessive usage of steroid-based ointments and drugs can cause stretch marks, which take time to go away.
Factors like diabetes, stress, malnutrition, alcohol, tobacco, etc. may cause stretch marks as well. Stretch marks may also be caused by caffeine, which is an alkaloid contained in coffee.
Conditions That Cause Stretch Marks
Any quick enlargement in the body can cause the skin to stretch, which leads to the rupture of elastin fibers and collagen. Hence, most people tend to have stretch marks in their shoulders, buttocks, thighs, breasts, abdomen, etc. Although stretching is often the primary cause, hormones may also have a role in causing them.
Here are the most common causes of stretch marks:
Pregnancy causes the anterior abdominal wall to stretch to accommodate the enlarged uterus adequately. As the pregnancy progresses, pink-colored stretch marks begin to appear on both sides of the abdomen, which later turns into silvery-white-colored stretch marks.
Rapid weight gain can result in excessive fat deposits, which might cause the skin to start developing stretch marks.
While undergoing puberty, both males and females tend to accumulate increased fat deposits, which is a result of increased hormonal activity. This tends to cause stretch marks. It is more prevalent in girls than boys, which is why stretch marks are more common in girls compared to boys when they undergo puberty.
Cushing’s Syndrome happens to be an endocrine disorder that occurs due to decreased secretion of important adrenal hormones. It causes visible stretch marks and obesity.
Bodybuilders undertake strenuously and demanding physical activities, which causes their skin to stretch. Their muscle size and tone also undergo a sudden enlargement, which results in an increased number of stretch marks that are usually found in the gluteal region, deltoid region, thighs, shoulders, etc.
Unrestricted usage of topical steroid-based creams and medicines can cause stretch marks as well. The former can cause a drop in the amount of elastic and collagen available in the body, which causes the skin to weaken further.
This is a condition where intercellular spaces get filled up by excess fluid. It may occur at any place in a person’s body. Liver and kidney disorders can cause prolonged edema, stretching the abdomen in its wake and causing stretch marks.
When weight loss occurs in an uncontrolled, rapid manner, stretch marks start appearing all over the body.
Stretch marks may be caused by all conditions, which affect the proper synthesis of collagen.
Where are Stretch Marks Found?
These marks usually occur in people experiencing conditions like obesity, puberty, pregnancy, etc. They appear in places like the shoulders, buttocks, breasts, thighs, abdomen, etc.
The abdominal region is hugely affected during the time of pregnancy. Obese individuals with excess fat deposits in their abdominal walls may also suffer from stretch marks.
Large abdominal tumors or lumps may cause the skin to stretch excessively.
Ascites happen to be a condition where an excessive amount of fluid gets accumulated in the body’s peritoneal cavity, thus stretching the abdominal walls.
Bodybuilders and weight lifters are susceptible to stretch marks in their thigh region. Puberty and obesity may also cause stretch marks here.
Breast enlargement occurs in females as they undergo puberty. Obesity and puberty may come together to cause stretch marks to appear on the breasts.
However, pregnant women are also likely to develop stretch marks during their pregnancy as a result of the engorgement and enlargement of their breasts. Such stretch marks turn prominent when their breasts turn sagged or pendulous as they become older.
This area experiences a significant increase in stretch marks, especially during puberty. Females are more affected compared to males due to their unique feminine structure. They also experience increased fat deposits in this region. Obesity and exercise can affect both men and women in an equal manner.
In this region, stretch marks occur primarily due to shoulder muscle hypertrophy and exercise. The body’s deltoid region is affected, as well.
Conditions like fat deposits, edema, and tumors may cause swellings that lead to stretch marks breaking out on the body.
When lymph flow is obstructed due to certain conditions, it is known as lymphedema. It results in stretch marks that are concentrated primarily near the body’s extremities.
When these marks begin to appear, it can take a considerable amount of time for such marks to disappear later.
How Can Stretch Marks Impact You?
Stretch marks can affect anyone, both men and women equally. However, women tend to suffer a more significant psychological impact as they are quite keen on retaining their beauty.
Stretch marks can also result in mental trauma, causing depressive thoughts in sensitive individuals.
Stretch marks can cause self-esteem issues and make people develop negative thought patterns. However, some women aren’t concerned about them at all and consider them to be a positive badge and an indicator of motherhood.
But people keep pouring in every day to visit cosmetic clinics and remove their stretch marks in increasing numbers as the days go by.
Most people report feeling disappointed with the advice given by the doctor. A few doctors chide their patients for being worried about their stretch marks.
Generally, all doctors apart from cosmetologists and dermatologists tend to flat out ignore the patient’s stretch marks since more importance is usually paid to crucial organs & other important body functions.
Although stretch marks tend to disappear on their own, providing proper treatment, advice & moral support to the sufferers can make them feel better.
Due to an increase in the number of people opting for stretch mark treatment, several products have begun to appear in the marketplace, which can erase these pesky stretch marks.
However, many of these methods have no scientific backing whatsoever. Some of them may display limited results.
Modern techniques such as laser therapy, plastic surgery may show effective results, even when the condition has been going on for a long time.
The latest statistics prove that more and more people are shelling out time and money for removing their stretch marks.