Stretch marks (known as Stria in dermatology) are a form of scarring on the skin. Stretch marks appear as linear streaks on parts of the skin that has been overstretched. They begin as flat, red lines and over time they appear as slightly depressed, white or silvery streaks. Stretch marks occur in the dermis, the deeper layer of the skin. The elastic fibers of the dermis are damaged, accompanied by inflammation, which results in the forming of scars.

Stretch marks due to body building

Stretch marks caused by body building

Stretch marks are caused by rapid and excessive increase in body mass and also during pregnancy, when the belly expands. They may also be influenced by excessive use of steroids, body building and hormonal changes, associated with puberty and hormone replacement therapy. Genetics can also play a role in the occurrence stretch marks

Stretch marks can appear anywhere on the body, but are most likely to emerge where larger amounts of fat are stored such as the abdomen, breasts, upper arms, back, thighs, hips and buttocks.

When stretch marks show up, it is best to treat them as early as possible – when they are still red or purple. Once stretch marks have passed to the later stages (where they become white or silvery), they are much more challenging to treat.

It is vital to moisturize! Skin becomes more pliable and supple and therefore better able to stretch, when it is hydrated. Moisturize 3 to 4 times a day with products that contain cocoa or shea butter.

There are many products that claim to repair stretch marks, but only a few of them work effectively.

Here is a list of products that are available for stretch marks:

Glycolic acid: Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid. It works on stretch marks by boosting collagen production.

Wheat germ oil: Research has shown that wheat germ oil helps improve stretch marks in their early phase.

Vitamin C: Certain formulations of vitamin C may increase collagen production and may help during the early stages of stretch marks. For the most effective results, combine with glycolic acid. Vitamin C supplements may also be effective.

Silvery streaks of stretch marks on the stomach

Silvery streaks of stretch marks on the stomach

Other treatments available to improve the appearance of existing stretch marks include laser treatments and dermabrasion. But as with all things, prevention is better than cure, so keep your skin moisturized and try to avoid excessive weight gain.

I hope that you have found this article informative. Look out for next month’s article: pigmentation.