Stretch marks typically look like parallel lines or a band on the skin. These lines may vary in colour (from purple to bright pink to light gray) and texture compared to normal skin. Stretch marks are slight ridges or indentations on the skin that can be felt. Sometimes stretch marks may feel itchy or sore. They happen when the middle layer of skin (dermis) is stretched and broken in places. These marks can appear during or after pregnancy or after a sudden weight change. Teenagers may notice stretch marks after a sudden growth spurt. Stretch marks aren’t dangerous and they often disappear or lighten over time. Stretch marks can appear anywhere in the body but the most frequently affected parts include the stomach, breasts, upper arms, thighs and buttocks.
Cortisone is a hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands. Too much of this hormone can make the skin lose its elasticity and results in stretch marks. During pregnancy the skin stretches in numerous ways to make room for the developing baby and causes stretch marks. Many other adrenal gland disorders can also cause stretch marks by increasing the level of cortisone in our body.
Hormonal changes occurring especially during pregnancy can affect the skin and make it prone to stretch marks. As the body is rapidly growing, stretch marks, especially on the belly and breasts are very common. Stretch marks can also show up on the thighs, buttocks and upper arms. It is very important to gain slow and steady weight during pregnancy to prevent these marks to some extent. So when it comes to stretch marks how quickly you gain may be as important as how much you gain. Getting stretch marks is also dependant on genes. One is more likely to get stretch marks if one’s parents have them. If one has fair or lighter complexion stretch marks are pinkish in colour. Wheatish skinned women tend to get stretch marks that are lighter than their skin tone. Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely prevent stretch marks but the occurrence can be reduced with natural remedies.
It is always a good idea to keep the skin hydrated regularly with moisturiser or aloe gel. It will make the skin feel better, look smoother and more toned, and prevent itchiness that can come with a growing belly. It also helps to keep the body hydrated with water.
Some stretch marks may naturally fade while others may remain darker and visible. Some creams claim to remove stretch marks once they’ve appeared but there is no reliable evidence that they work. There are no magical treatments that will make the marks go away completely. But there are precautions which help minimise the marks.
The best treatment is to keep the skin healthy and hydrated so that it maintains its maximum elasticity, and have ample amount of water.
(Writer is a nutritionist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)