Stretch mark also called striae, striae distensae (SD), striae atrophicans, and striae gravidarum are those narrow, stripes long lines that develops on the skin due to some extreme stretch of the skin.
The tendency of occurrence is more in women than in men.
They appear in various part of the body such as stomach, thighs, hips, breasts, upper arms, and lower back.
The skin consists of three layers. Stretch marks are formed in the dermis, or middle layer when the connective tissue is stretched beyond the limits of its elasticity. This is normally due to rapid expansion or contraction of the skin.
As the body grows, the connecting fibers in the dermis slowly stretch to accommodate slow growth. However, rapid growth leads to sudden stretching. This causes the dermis to tear, allowing deeper layers of skin to show through.
The major cause of these marks is when the skin does not assume its normal form after an intensive stretch, these can be seen in cases of pregnancy, weight gain, weight loss, or puberty. About 50% of witness stretch marks during pregnancy.
Stretch marks have no medical effect but as has to self-esteem.
Signs and symptoms Stretch marks
- Stretch marks appear to be thin and pink when it starts emerging and also feels itchy.
- At the initial stage of the stretch mark, it can be red, purple, pink, reddish-brown or dark brown, depending on skin color. Over time the marks the streaks eventually fade and flatten and tend to change to a silvery color.
Common causes Stretch mark
Weight gain: These has been one of the major cause of stretch mark, adding pounds of weight has shown to cause a Stretchmark.
Puberty: Stretch mark arises in young teenagers going through puberty, this is as a result of rapid growth during that age.
Pregnancy: A greater percentage of women witness stretch marks during pregnancy and after birth, the marks fade away with time.
Medical conditions: Some medical conditions promote stretch marks such as Marfan syndrome and Cushing’s syndrome. Marfan syndrome can lead to decreased elasticity in the skin tissue, and Cushing’s syndrome can lead the body to produce too much of a hormone that leads to rapid weight gain and skin fragility.
Use of corticosteroid: Long-term use of cream rich in corticosteroid has shown to reduce the level of collagen in the skin, this collagen supports the texture of the skin and low amount of this collagen can increase the risk of stretch mark.
Risk factors for developing stretch marks
- Family history
- Chronic diseases
- Body mass index (BMI) before pregnancy
- Birthweight of the child in women who are pregnant
Diagnosis stretch marks
- Stretch marks are medically diagnosed based on a skin(visual) examination and a review of a person’s medical record.
- The physician asks the individual questions based on signs and symptoms, as well as any medications currently being used or existing medical conditions.
- Stretch marks are not harmful and do not cause medical problems. In rare cases, they may indicate an underlying medical issue that requires treatment or monitoring.
Treatment and prevention Stretch marks
Treatment for stretch marks are not always 100% effective and can be costly.
- Creams, gels, lotions, and cosmetic surgery are proposed as treatments for stretch marks, although there is little medical proof to support the effectiveness of the above listed.
- Stretch marks often fade over time and become fainty. For women who develop stretch marks in pregnancy, these usually become less noticeable around 6 to 12 months after giving birth.
- Makeup can be used to conceal stretch marks on exposed parts of the body while they noticeable.
Prevention of Stretch marks
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Avoid yo-yo dieting.
- Eat a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Aim for slow and gradual weight gain during pregnancy.
- Drink six to eight glasses of water every day.
Bottom line: Stretch marks are streaks of the long line that appears on the skin as result of an inability of the skin to regain its normal form after a severe stretch and with the right medications can be cured and time is a major factor in the healing of stretch mark.
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