Body health

Stretch Marks – 8 Most Frequently Asked Questions [ANSWERED]

Over 80 percent of adults worldwide have stretch marks.

This means that more than half of your family and friends also have stretch marks.

Michael Jackson eating popcorn
You are not alone. I am here with you.

Stretch marks bear no health risk to you. Instead, they are your skin’s way of expanding to pressure without bursting open.

Need to know more?

Here are quick answers to all the questions you may have about stretch marks.

What are stretch marks?

Stretch marks are those stretched out marks or stripes on some of your skin areas.

The rapid expansion of your muscles under those skin areas are the cause of stretch marks.

How do stretch marks happen?

Few layers of tissues make up your skin, and Collagen (an elastic fibre) holds these skin layers together.

This Collagen gives your skin some amount of elasticity – to stretch and return.

However, just like every elastic material, your skin can only stretch to a limit. Any more stretching and your Collagen fibre will break.

How a stretchmark is formed

A break in your Collagen fibre results to a tear in the middle layer of that skin area.

This tear is what is called stretch mark.

For example,

Take a balloon.

Blow air into that balloon, and notice how it expands.

Colourful balloons

Continue to inflate it, and you will feel the balloon expanding more and forming thin/clear lines around its sides.

Continue inflating and GBOOOOA! – It bursts.

OK.

I should have stopped at the “thin/transparent lines” because your skin does not burst.

Instead, it overstretches and forms stretch marks in a bid to accommodate the rapid expansion of your muscles under that skin.

Where do stretch marks happen?

Stretch marks are peculiar to only a few of your body areas.

These areas are either where a large number of your fats are stored or where your underlying muscles are likely to expand on certain occasions.

Did you notice?

These areas are your,

  • Hip
  • Breasts
  • Buttocks
  • Chest
  • Laps
  • Stomach
  • Shoulders
  • Back

Are there types of stretch marks?

Yes, there are.

(Try pronouncing them fast,..faster)

Stretch MarksColour(s) or Cause(s)
Striae rubraePink/red
Striae albaeWhite
Striae caerulea Dark blue/purple
Striae nigrae Dark grey/black
Striae gravidarumDuring pregnancy
Striae atrophicansExcess Cortisol – a stress hormone

New stretch marks are usually red or pink because the exposed inner layer is thin, transparent, and closest to your blood vessel.

After a while, stretch marks fade to white, grey, or black depending on your skin colour.

What causes stretch marks?

You already know that stretch marks happen because of the rapid expansion of some tissues beneath your skin.

However, do you know what could be causing those underlying tissues to expand?

  1. Heredity
  2. Puberty
  3. Pregnancy
  4. Obesity
  5. Breast or butt implant
  6. Rapid gains from workout
  7. Use of steroids
  8. Medical conditions like Cushing’s Syndrome or Marfan Disease

Heredity

Heredity is the transfer of genes from parents to child(ren).

A couple watching their child crawl

Genes are the foundation of all your characteristics, even down to the elasticity of your skin.

Some people were born with very elastic skin, others, not so much. And these differences can affect your likelihood of developing stretch marks.

Hormonal secretion, which is another crucial factor of stretch marks, is also determined by your genetic makeup.

Puberty

Puberty marks the beginning of sexual maturity.

This developmental stage is known for the various observable features in both genders.

Expansion of the shoulders for boys and the enlargement of the breasts and hips for girls can overwhelm your skin around that area and cause stretch marks.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy is always accompanied by a significant increase in your breasts, stomach and overall body fat as an expectant mother.

The big tummy of a pregnant woman

Research reported that 90% of women get the most stretch marks from pregnancy.

Are you surprised?

Many parts of your body expand too much and too fast for your skin when you are pregnant.

And as your skin adjusts to accommodate these rapid expansions without bursting open, they get stretched out beyond their limits and leave marks.

Obesity

Obesity is an excessive and unhealthy increase in body weight, mostly from fat accumulation.

Images showing the transition from normal weight to overweight

If this increase in your body size is too sudden and left unchecked for too long, it can stretch out your skin and leave a few marks.

Breasts or butt(ocks) implant

Two big melons

Surgical enlargement of your body parts can push too hard against that skin area and produce stretch marks.

Rapid gains from workout

Overloading your exercise routine with too many activities can cause stretch marks.

This is because your muscles may expand beyond what your skin can cover for that area.

A man lifting heavy weight

When you also concentrate too much workout on one of your body parts, the increasing muscles can overstretch the skin of that area too.

Use of steroids

Taking steroid medications can boost your body build, but beware of stretch marks!

Steroids, especially corticosteroids, also contribute to the thinning of your skin layers, which reduces their elasticity.

Corticosteroids are steroids that contain Cortisol – a stress hormone.

This hormone is known to weaken the collagen fibres in your skin, therefore putting you at risk of developing stretch marks.

Medical conditions

Marfan and Cushing’s syndrome are diseases that can cause stretch marks by increasing the secretion of Cortisol in your body.

How can you prevent stretch marks?

Prevention is better than cure, and even more so, for stretch marks that have no cure.

Therefore, if your stretch marks have not happened yet, and you will like it to remain so, here are some things you should keep in mind.

  1. Do not exercise too hard – Instead, gradually increase your tempo.
  2. Avoid concentrating your workouts on a particular body area. Target more than just one muscle in your exercise routine.
  3. Try as much as possible to maintain a healthy weight (Eat, Sleep, and Exercise).
  4. Avoid the use of steroids unless professionally prescribed for a serious medical condition.
  5. Stay hydrated – Dry skins are less elastic and prone to stretch marks.
  6. Eat healthy diets of, especially fruits and vegetables.
  7. Always lookout for the ingredients of your body creams, lotions and gels at the sides of their container.
  8. Keep your skin moisturized, especially during puberty and pregnancy or while hitting the gym.
  9. You should monitor your weight gain during pregnancy as a woman.

So what if you have stretch marks?

Living with stretch marks can be tough sometimes, especially when others put it in the negative light of affecting your appearance.

Here is how you can grow to accept your stretch marks in good faith.

Badge of honour – Rather than something to be depressed about, see your stretch marks from a positive perspective like how well you have grown or are growing.

Hidden positions – Did you notice that those places where your stretch marks happen can be easily covered with clothes?

No health risks – Stretch mark are not symptoms of any health concerns. Cushing’s and Marfan syndrome are rare cases that should not bother you.

They fade out – Stretch marks can blend with your skin colour over time, and become less noticeable.

Others have it too – More than 80% of adults have stretch marks. Therefore, the chances are that even those mocking you may also have stretch marks beneath their clothes.

Conclusion [Question No.8]

Stretch marks have no cure – once they happen, they cannot un-happen.

Thunder strike

However, you can make them seem like they never happened.

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[mks_toggle title=References state=”open”] 1. Are pregnancy stretch marks different? (Sep. 2019). www.americanpregnancy.org
2. Are stretch marks genetic? (Jan. 2019). www.mioskincare.co.uk
3. Cushing’s syndrome. (Feb. 2018). www.yourhormones.info
4. How to prevent stretch marks from weight lifting and bodybuilding. (Sep. 2019). www.men’sjournal.com
5. Stretch marks: Why they appear. (Sep. 2019). www.aad.org
6. Types of stretch marks. (Sep. 2019). www.mymed.com
7. What is Marfan syndrome? (Sep. 2014). www.marfanfoundation.org[/mks_toggle]

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