Many of you would either have experienced stretch marks or know someone who has. They are a huge annoyance and are often complained about, but what are they and what causes them?
Although they pose no health risks, most of us want to get rid of them to get natural, even skin. Here are the basics you should know:
- Stretch marks, medically called ‘striae distensae’ are scars that occur in the deeper layer of your skin, the dermis. They show up because of the damage that is caused by the stretching of your skin. The scarring that occurs in this layer of skin is due to the rupture of collagen which in turn leads to the striae.
- They start off as bands that are red in colour called ‘striae rubra’ and fade slowly over time to white in colour called ‘striae alba’. They usually occur on your stomach, lower back, thighs, upper arms, shoulders (especially in weight lifters) and on your breasts and abdomen during pregnancy.
- The cause of stretch marks is the sudden change in body size that leads to the stretching of the skin. It occurs when people go through rapid weight changes, whether it is losing or gaining. It is the drastic fluctuation of weight that changes the elasticity of the skin leading to stretch marks. Besides weight changes, other causes include growth spurts during puberty, muscle gain through weight training, hormonal changes during pregnancy or puberty and usage of steroids (applications or oral.) Also, if you have a genetic predisposition, then you are more likely to develop it.
- Avoid drastic weight changes and try controlling your weight fluctuations. A controlled loss or gain of weight allows the skin enough time to get used to the change, reducing the intensity of stretch marks. It is the same case with weight training – excessive and quick increase in weights during training may put the skin through a lot of sudden stress, leading to stretch marks.
- The scars that are formed can be stubborn – although there are various treatment options available. These treatments help in the improving of skin texture and structure by 20 – 40 percent. The scars and striae that are formed do not go back to its original skin structure. The key is early treatment when the stretch marks are in the ‘red stage’ as this gives a better response. Once they are formed, they may decrease in size gradually but are not usually known to disappear altogether. They can marginally get better over time even without treatment.
Treatment options would include the application of oils, topical retinoids, and scar creams that help in the improvement of the texture and the tightening the skin of the scars. There are also procedures such as chemical peels and lasers among others that can further help reduce the appearance and texture of the scars.
All treatment options should be discussed with a dermatologist during a consultation. Only a certified dermatologist will be able to recommend the right treatment options for you.
For more information about how to look after your skin and hair, or if you’d like to get a treatment plan from a certified dermatologist all from your phone, for a 30% discount especially for Fitmag readers and SQUATs members, then check out: www.remedicohealth.com/
About the Author:
Dr. Sonam Vimadalal (MBBS, DDVL) is a dermatologist based in Mumbai, and Co-Chief Medical Officer at Remedico.
For any skin or hair issue, getting a professional guidance is always the best bet!
Medical professionals and certified dermatologists would be the best people to guide you and in fact, these days you do not even have to visit the clinic as you can get your personal doctor online. (Who would have thought that diet and fitness would go online? SQUATS changed the game altogether!)
One such clinic is ‘Remedico’ which provides online skin and hair consultation. You just need to send your pictures and communicate with your doctor online to share your problems. They send you a personal treatment plan and support you throughout.