What causes stretch marks

Stretch marks are a very common occurrence particularly in women who are pregnant or those who have gained and/or lost a significant amount of weight. They are caused by the skin being stretched beyond its limits. The process is very similar to when elastic loses its stretch. The collagen and elastin in the skin help it to stay supple. When this elastin and collagen is lost, the skin will begin to show marks, fine lines, wrinkles and loss of skin tone. Whenever the elastin and collagen fibers in the skin are broken down or lost, stretch marks will show on the top layer of the skin.

Women are the most commonly affected by stretch marks and occurrences such as pregnancy, rapid growth and hormones can result in stretch marks. Severe cases of stretch marks have been reported by those using many medications such as cortisone which is found in steroids. These marks are weaknesses in the skin’s supporting structure and cause the layers of skin on the body to separate which in turn leaves the skin discolored and/or grooved. Stretch marks typically develop whenever the skin is stretched to an excessive level such as during growth spurts, pregnancy and moderate weight gain. During this time, the dermal collagen becomes damaged and the dilation in the blood vessels will form the purple or red that you typically see in stretch marks.

Inflammation of the collagen as well as the remodeling process of the collagen itself can also lead to loss of melanocyte cells that produce pigmentation. Over a period of time, this lack of pigmentation could result in white scars that are often referred to as mature stretch marks. The stretch marks actually develop in the middle level of the skin or the dermis. This is the elastic layer of the skin that allows the skin to stretch when needed. The collagen in the dermis will help the skin to stretch and then shrink again during times of weight fluctuation. If the dermis is stretched significantly for a long period of time, the elasticity in the collagen will break and the dermis will attempt to correct the problem by producing more collagen over the damaged area. This is the process that creates the scars or marks in the dermis that eventually will show through to the top layer of skin.

Athletes and body builders have been known to develop stretch marks because of the repetitive exercises in which they participate. The hips, buttocks, abdomen, thighs and breasts are the most commonly affected areas, although stretch marks can also appear on the upper arms and other areas as well. It has been suggested that some people are more genetically prone to develop stretch marks than others. Certain skin types play a factor in whether or not you will develop these dermal scars. Dryer skin is typically less elastic and will be more prone to develop stretch marks than oily skin. This is also true of wrinkles and other skin conditions. Stretch marks are also much more common in skin that shows a high proportion of rigid cross-lined collagen. This is a condition that is typically found in teenagers and diminishes after early adulthood.

Although there is no professional cure for stretch marks, there are many potions and creams on the market today that claim to aid in the removal of these dermal scars. Many creams and lotions contain Vitamin E which is said to be a natural remedy to diminish the marks. Many creams and lotions however simply claim to diminish stretch marks and do nothing more than moisturize the skin. If you are searching for a cure for stretch marks, the best rule is to visit your doctor and inquire about a recommendation. It is important that you choose a cream or lotion that is best for your skin type and one that contains natural ingredients.

Last updated on Dec 7th, 2010 and filed under Skin Care. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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