Stretch marks are pink or purple streaks that appear on the skin, especially in the abdomen, thighs, upper arms, and back. This is very common in pregnant women, but may also be seen in people who gain weight, or a sudden growth during puberty. The color of the marks may gradually fade to white or grey. Stretch marks are often formed by the stretching of the skin, as the name indicates. This may be found in both men and women in many parts of their body.
These undesirable marks depend on the duration for which it was present, the location on the skin, and the type of the skin. These marks become more obvious when there is excess of hormone cortisone, which affects the elasticity of the skin. Other than pregnancy and growth spurts, certain medications like corticosteroid formulations, topical or oral, and other systemic steroids may also result in stretch marks. Health conditions like Cushing’s syndrome and adrenal gland disorders can also lead to broad marks in different locations.
Stretch marks respond best when tackled in the early stages. As the condition progresses and when they develop into indentations with silver or gray color, treatment becomes much harder. The most important aspect in the treatment is to keep the skin well hydrated so that it more flexible. Thus keeping the skin well moisturized helps in making it easy to stretch. Keeping the skin well hydrated with products containing shea butter and cocoa gives good results. The factors that may affect the success of any treatment method include age, tone of the skin and diet. Both prescription medications and over-the-counter products are now available for controlling this skin condition.
Tretinoin treatment and laser therapy are the most commonly recommended options for reducing the appearance of marks. Effectiveness of over-the-counter products is not fully known in controlling the appearance of stretch marks. Sunless tanning products seem to be effective in masking the marks in different parts of the body. Many alternative therapies including olive oil, many herbal and plant products, vitamins and fruit acids are used for reducing these marks. Unfortunately, there is no solid evidence to support the use of these therapies in treating stretch marks.