Stretch Marks: Causes and Preventions
Stretch marks also known as striae distensae or striae gravidarum are scars that develop when the skin stretches or shrinks swiftly. The sudden change causes the collagen and elastin, which support our skin, to rupture. As the skin heals, stretch marks may appear. They may be red, purple, or silver in appearance and most often appear on the stomach, chest, hips, bottom, or thighs. It appears alike to changes seen in the surface of balloons that have been puffed.
There is some controversy over the precise mechanism by which stretch marks occur. There seems to be damage to the deeper layer of the skin accompanied by inflammation which eventually results in atrophic scar-like changes. Excessive physical stretching of the skin seems to induce these changes.
Common causes of skin stretching include:
- Puberty: Accelerated growth is typical in young people going through puberty.
- Rapid weight gain: Putting on a lot of weight in a short time can cause it
- Prolonged use of corticosteroid creams and lotions can decrease levels of collagen in the skin. Collagen strengthens and supports the skin, and a reduced amount can increase the risk of stretch marks.
- Pregnancy: About 50%- 90% of women who are pregnant experience stretch marks during or after birth.
- Certain medical conditions can cause stretch marks, conditions 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 excess hormone that leads to accelerated weight gain and skin fragility.
- Breast implants or extremely large breast.
There’s no way to prevent stretch marks completely, even if you continually use lotions and creams. However, keeping your weight in a healthy range by eating well and exercising regularly can help to prevent stretch marks caused by sudden weight gain or loss.
1. Control your body weight
One of the most helpful ways to prevent stretch marks, whether you’re pregnant or not is to maintain a healthy weight. It can happen when your skin stretches quickly due to fast weight gain. You may also notice stretch marks after rapid weight loss. Some people develop stretch marks during growth spurts, such as during puberty. While other people notice theirs after big gains from working out or using steroids. Working to control body changes from happening too quickly may be your best bet. Eat a healthy diet and exercise to help you manage your weight.
2. Stay hydrated
Drinking enough water may help keep your skin hydrated and soft. Soft skin hardly tends to develop stretch marks as much as dry skin does. The Institute of Medicine’s current recommendations for daily water intake is 104 ounces for men and 72 ounces for women. Drinking caffeinated beverages, like coffee, may increase your risk of developing stretch marks. If you must drink coffee, always balance out other fluid intakes with plenty of water and caffeine-free drinks
3. Eat a nutrient-rich diet
Stretch marks may also occur if you lack nutrition in certain areas. Eating foods that boost skin health may help. One way to make sure you’re getting a variety of nutrients is to choose unprocessed foods in various colours and taking fruits rich in Vitamins.
4. Include Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) in your diet
Collagen plays a role in keeping your skin strong and elastic. It helps reduce the presence of wrinkles, but it may also be important for preventing stretch marks. We have so many sources of Vitamin C, it can be found in citrus fruits, vegetables etc.
5. Soak up some vitamin D
Vitamin D may reduce your risk of stretch marks. The easiest way to get vitamin D is through exposure to the sun. The vitamin is also commonly added to bread, cereal, and dairy products like milk or yoghurt.
6. Eat foods rich in zinc
Zinc is an important nutrient for skin health. It helps reduce inflammation and plays a role in the wound healing process. There is very little evidence to date of a connection between zinc and stretch marks, but including zinc-rich foods in your diet, such as nuts and fish, may help keep your skin healthy.
7. Treat fresh stretch marks when it appears
You can’t prevent it on your skin, but you can work to minimize their appearance so they aren’t as noticeable in the long run. Make an appointment with your doctor or a dermatologist to discuss your options if you have fresh stretch marks. Your doctor can help determine what is causing your marks, and they may be able to suggest treatment options that work best.
Stretch marks often fade to become less noticeable with time. Preventing them can be difficult, and no miracle products have been scientifically proven to work. Many preventive measures still lack scientific backing. It pose no long-term health risks, and treatment is normally intended to improve the self-image of the person.