Stretch marks (striae) are indented streaks that appear on various parts of the body. They are caused by stretching of the skin and their severity depends on various factors such as genetics and the degree of stress on the skin. *Cortisol hormone levels are also a determining factor. Stretch marks don’t require treatment and often fade over time, with or without treatment.
Common causes of stretch marks include:
Pregnancy: the expected stretching of the skin and subsequent stretch marks usually start appearing over the abdomen in the 3rd trimester.
Obesity: weight gain is commonly associated with over-stretching due to the excessive fat deposition in the deep layers of the skin and thus, stretch marks on shoulders, thighs, and torso.
Excessive physical load: it’s very common in athletes that weight-bearing exercises and muscular growth result in the splitting of deeper skin layers and stretch marks.
Inheritance: stretch marks may develop in people with specific genes and family history.
Puberty: often people, Particularly males may develop stretch marks during teenage due to increased muscular mass.
Stretch marks have no negative health effects on their own, but people often seek treatment for the underlying causes and marks as they cause a cosmetic issue. Here are some tips to help reduce the appearance of stretch marks:
Applying topical creams such as a retinoid cream helps stimulate collagen formation that conceals the stretch marks developed due to a lack of collagen fibers.
Eating food rich in vitamins, particularly vitamins A and E, promotes skin elasticity and repair.
Following a healthy lifestyle with the following points of concern:
Getting enough hours of sleep
Avoiding stress or physical overload
Drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration
Avoiding direct exposure to sunlight for long durations
Eating a balanced diet consisting of lean proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables
If the above measures fail, laser therapy can be considered. It involves scraping the superficial layer of skin that stimulates the basal skin to form new layers that are rich in collagen and conceal the underlying stretch marks.
*Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands that weakens the elastic fibers of the skin.
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