Stretch Marks can be very annoying and bother many people. Mostly stretch Marks occur during pregnancy, but can also be seen during growth spurts or when they’re a lot of weight gain.
What are Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks are a type of scar because of undue stretching of the skin, which is beyond its elastic limit. The skin fibres tend to break, and that leads to the appearance of stretch marks. These are scars that are there on the skin. They can appear on the abdomen, on the breast, on the thighs and even behind your knees.
What does a Stretch Marks look like?
When it appears a fresh stretch mark, it has a reddish hue to it; it looks slightly red and overtimes as it matures it becomes pale and they are usually lighter than the natural skin tone and our time they also become thinner and become less visible, so it starts as red and then over time becomes lighter and pale coloured.
Stretch Marks in pregnancy.
Why do we get stretch marks during pregnancy?
About 60 to 90 percent of pregnant women get stretch marks. Along with the stretching of the skin, certain changes occur within the skin because of changes in the hormone. That makes skin more prone to develop stretch marks. Therefore stretch marks during pregnancy are very prevalent, they can occur on the abdomen, breast, hips, thighs and even buttocks.
What are the risk factors for Stretch Marks in pregnancy?
It has been seen that women who get pregnant at a young age or who have had a history of having stretch marks on their thighs, on their breasts are at a higher chance of developing stretch marks during pregnancy.
Also, women who have a higher pre-pregnancy weight or pre-delivery weight and women who deliver babies with a higher birth weight are also more predisposed to develop stretch marks. There is also genetic predisposition, i.e. that women who have mothers and sisters who have had stretch marks. They are also at a higher likelihood of developing stretch marks during pregnancy and certain studies show that factors such as increased alcohol intake, reduced water intake and even malnutrition and gestational diabetes can also lead to an increased risk of developing stretch marks.
But, it has not proved these even if genetically predisposed women who did heavy work and athletes had a reduced number of stretch marks than those who do not do heavy work.
How can stretch marks be prevented?
No cream can completely prevent the appearance of stretch marks, so do not fall for any of these marketing gimmicks. The evidence is not strong enough to make a recommendation. So what we can do? Using regular moisturizer or coconut oil or olive oil over your abdomen can help in moisturizing and hydrating the skin. This will make your skin less itchy and hence might reduce the chances of developing stretch marks. But it will not completely prevent it. So, I encourage you to use a good moisturizer or any oil that you prefer on your abdomen when it is slightly damp so that you can keep it hydrated.
Whenever you are developing stretch marks, the abdomen also gets very itchy and when you scratch and injure the skin that can lead to a secondary infection. So, it is good to apply a moisturizer to soothe this itch, so you will not feel like scratching the abdomen and they’ll be less injury to the skin.
What can you do?
You make sure that you are slowly gaining weight keep your weight under check and also remain active though pregnancy exercises can also help in reducing the appearance of stretch marks though not completely proven.
Other than pregnancy, when can Stretch Marks be noticed.
It can be noticed during growth spurts, during adolescence when you are gaining height, you could notice the stretch marks over your hips, on the back of your knees and even on your armpits and your elbows. When limbs grow it could lead to stretching of the overlying skin and hence leading to the appearance of stretch marks.
Stretch Marks can also be seen in people who have recently joined the gym and are lifting heavyweight. This can lead to a sudden increase in the size of the muscle that can cause a stretch on the overlying skin. So they do notice stretch marks on their biceps, on the back of their arms and even on their thighs and hips. The use of steroid creams can also lead to stretch marks, use of creams such as panderm, quadridam, fourdrem etc. which have steroids in them can lead to the appearance of stretch marks.
If you have just joined the gym and started working out, make sure that you slowly gain weight and started lifting very gradually. So, if you have recently joined the gym and started weight lifting, make sure that you are gradually increasing the weights initially. let your skin get used to the new strenuous exercise and this new activity, try to moisturize before and after your workout. This may not completely prevent stretch marks but will help in reducing its appearance. If you are suddenly developing numerous stretch marks, then this could be because of hormonal imbalance.
If you visit a dermatologist or an endocrinologist for screening if you are suddenly developing a lot of stretch marks.
How can stretch marks be treated?
As stretch marks are scars, they cannot completely vanish we can only improve the appearance, so we aim to reduce the visibility of the stretch marks because they can never completely go away. The type of treatment depends upon the type and location of stretch marks. If there are extensive stretch marks in women who have had multiple pregnancies and the overlying skin on her abdomen is lax, then we may need to do some surgical intervention to improve the appearance of the abdomen. Just some creams or procedures may not be able to improve the appearance of stretch marks.
One of the creams that can be effective in improving the appearance of stretch marks is tretinoin cream, which comes in a concentration of 0.025%, 0.05% and 0.1%. This can be applied over the areas of stretch marks at night.
Tretinoin cream is concentrated in pregnancy. So, if you are planning to get pregnant or are pregnant, then you should avoid using tretinoin. Another helpful cream is hyaluronic acid cream. Hyaluronic acid absorbs water from the body and kind of hydrated and this, in turn, reduces the appearance of stretch marks. so hyaluronic acid creams can be applied to the affected area twice a day.
You need to remember that these stretch marks can never be vanished completely but can be improved to a certain extent with the help of the above-mentioned creams.