ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Stretch Marks: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Updated on October 3, 2013

What are Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks, known as "striae" in dermatology circles, are a certain type of dermatological scarring that takes the form of parallel lines. Stretch marks are caused by the scarring of the skin's middle layer, or "dermis", and take the appearance of thin reddish or purplish hued lines, which may fade over time into silver or white lines, but are usually permanent unless removed surgically.

What Causes Stretch Marks?

In the simplest terms, skin that is subjected to a greater stretching force than it can manage will tear. Many factors influence the skin's inherent capacity to withstand these stretching forces, including genetics, hormonal changes. There is also a potential link between diet and exercise and skin's resilience, but more research needs to be performed in order to forge a more conclusive link.

There is a hormonal link to the appearance of stretch marks: glucocortoid hormones, steroid hormones produced in the adrenal glands in response to stress and which are part of the body's immune feedback system, have been shown to prevent fibroblasts in the dermis from forming the fibers necessary to maintain a taut appearance of rapidly growing skin, the collagen and elastin. If the skin stretches without this network of supportive fibers, multi-layer tearing occurs, which results in stretch marks. Although this skin stretching plays a major role in the subsequent appearance of stretch marks, it is by no means their sole cause, playing a larger role in determining placement and directionality of stretch marks.

The role of hormones in the formation of stretch marks is further reinforced by the fact that their appearance can be traced to periods of great hormonal change such as puberty, pregnancy, and hormone replacement therapy. Also, bodybuilders may have a higher susceptibility to developing stretch marks, as they experience periods of rapid muscle growth and expansion, which stretches the skin.


Statistics have shown that between seventy-five and eighty percent of pregnant women notice the appearance of stretch marks, primarily in the third trimester, due to the combination of a constant high hormonal level as well as the higher levels of stretching forces. In the pregnancy population, several factors can be examined to determine propensity to develop stretch marks. Women of low maternal age (especially teenagers), who begin their pregnancies with a high body mass index and who have a weight gain over the duration of their pregnancy that is greater than thirty-three pounds have been shown to be at the most risk to develop stretch marks.



What do Stretch Marks Look Like?

Though they make their appearance on the skin'ssurface as a series of red or purple streaks, stretch marks actually originate in the middle layer of the skin, known as the dermis. This resilient supporting layer functions to aid the skin in retaining its shape. When stretch marks appear, the areas affected have an soft, almost empty appearance, which signifies a lack of underlying support. As long as the dermis is supoorted, stretch marks will not form.

The appearance of stretch marks can occur anywhere the integrity of the support layer of the dermis is compromised, but are seen most commonly in areas of the body where there are significant fat deposits. The most common areas that are normally affected are therefore the abdomen (particularly near the naval) breasts, portions of the arms including the upper region and the underarm region, the back, inner and outer thighs, and the hips and buttocks. Though considered by many to be unsightly, they are not a health risk, and they in no way hinder the body's natural ability to heal and repair itself.

How Can Stretch Marks Be Prevented?

Because internal factors such as hormone production and genetics play such a large role in determining one's propensity to develop stretch marks, it is debatable as to whether any form of external treatment can be relied upon to wholly prevent the appearance of stretch marks. Certain extra rich emollients such as cocoa butter have been suggested as limited efficacey means for preventing stretch marks, but their main function seems to be quelling the itchiness that is associated with stretch marks. Most treatments focus on the complete or partial erasure of existing marks, and have therefore a much higher success rate. Examples of these treatments would be Revitagen-Fx, StriVectin-SD, and Trilastin, among others.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)