Stretch Marks

1 What are Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks are streaks that appear on abdomen, breasts, hips, buttocks and thighs. Over time tie they become less noticeable. Commonly noticed in pregnant women, especially during last trimester.

Treatment can make stretch marks fade, but won’t completely removes them. Stretch marks aren't harmful or painful, but some people feel distress about the way they make skin look.

2 Symptoms

The symptoms of stretch marks vary depending on the cause and the time for which they were present.

The common variations include: indented streaks or lines in the skin, pink, red, black, blue or purple streaks, bright streaks that fade to lighter color, streaks on the abdomen, breasts, hips, buttocks or thighs. Streaks covering large areas of the body.

3 Causes

Stretch marks seem to be caused by stretching of skin.

Their severity depends on several factors, including

  • genetic tendency,
  • degree of stress on the skin,
  • cortisone level.

Cortisone- a hormone produced by adrenal glands located over kidney has tendency to weaken connective tissue.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Stretch marks are typically diagnosed based on examination of skin and review of medical history.

If doctor suspects increased level of cortisol he/she might suggest additional tests.

5 Treatment

Stretch marks usually don’t require medical treatment. They are harmless and often fade overtime. Treatment methods work temporarily but will not remove them completely.

The following methods are available to improve the appearance of skin in case of stretch marks. They include:

  • Retinoid cream- derived from vitamin a such as tertinoin which can be applied topically on the skin to improve the appearance by rebuilding the collagen. tertinoin can irritate skin. Pregnant women and nurses who are handling small children must use this cream with caution.
  • Light and laser therapies- a variety of laser and light therapies are available to help stimulate the growth of collagen in skin depending on the situation doctor will suggest the appropriate therapy.
  • Microdermabrasion- it involves handheld device capable of injecting crystals gently into the skin which removes top most layer, prompting growth of new skin.

Factors which are considered before treatment include: how long stretch marks were present, skin type of patient, convenience of patient, cost of the treatment.

6 Prevention

Maintaining healthy body proportions will help prevent stretch marks. Extreme stretching of skin must be avoided. Heavy exercises which include weigh gain very fast must be avoided. Mild to moderate exercises are recommended to prevent stretch marks from appearing.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

The following alternative and home remedies can be used in the treatment of stretch marks, although, their efficacy is not yet proven:

  • aloe juice mist,
  • flower water mist,
  • lavender oil mist,
  • damask rose oil mist,
  • chamomile oil mist,
  • neroli oil mist.

Consider doctor’s consultation before the use of these products.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Some lifestyle changes should be made in order to cope with stretch marks:

  • exercise,
  • eating healthy diet,
  • avoiding stress caused by cosmetic change done to the skin.

Stretch marks are no big catastrophe. They have no severe complications and they sometimes in minor cases heal on themselves.

9 Risks and Complications

Risk factors for stretch marks include:

  • being female,
  • having a personal or family history of stretch marks,
  • being pregnant, especially for young women,
  • being overweight or obese,
  • rapidly gaining or losing weight,
  • undergoing breast enlargement surgery,
  • having Cushing’s syndrome, mar fan syndrome or certain other genetic disorders.

There are no severe complications caused by stretch marks.

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