Saturday, 12 December 2015

STRETCH MARKS; causes and treatment

By Sam Maondu

Stretch marks or striae occur as a result of rapid stretching of skin occurring during periods of rapid weight gain or growth. During this period of rapid weight gain or growth, the skin lacks time to adjust and small tears occur under the skin.

Presentation of stretch marks;

Stretch marks are more common in areas where there are larger amounts of fat under the skin like the hips, belly, lower back, thighs, breasts and buttocks.
As the skin is overstretched, the inner layer of the skin is stretched too and its connective tissue breaks down. Small bleeds appear at the point where the skin breaks down appearing as purple or red when they are fresh. As the bleed resolves, the area of skin sunken and appears silvery with a soft touch.


Causes of stretch marks:

Hormonal variations- during puberty, the growth hormone is responsible for growth spurts which makes girls develop stretch marks at the hips, breasts and thighs.

Medical conditions- like Marfans Syndrome. People with Marfans have connective tissue disorder and are tall with slender limbs, toes and fingers and are at risk of developing stretch marks.

Prolonged stress- During fight or flight response the body is mobilized to produce an hormone called cortisol. Chronic stress has been linked to elevated cortisol levels in the body which has become public health concern in genesis of diseases in the body. The skin has collagen fiber which helps to maintain elasticity and integrity of the skin layer. Cortisol decreases the amount of collagen making the skin lose some degree of elasticity and more likely to develop stretch marks.

Rapid weight gain- body weight variation poses a stress on the skin to adjust to rapid weight changes. People who diet are at risk of weight spurts and are at risk of developing stretch marks.

Pregnancy- the growing fetus causes mechanical distension on the abdomen. There are also associated higher levels of hormone cortisol during pregnancy all which couples the risks for striae.

Drugs- people with inflammatory skin condition may have a topical corticosteroid prescription from the doctor. Cortisol is a steroid hormone and these drugs will have similar effect as cortisol. They decrease the amount of collagen fiber and skin is more likely to develop stretch marks.

Treatment for stretch marks.

Laser therapy- It uses light and basically functions to enable the body to produce more collagen to strengthen the skin. Different types have been employed in treatment of stretch marks using laser therapy but they don't clear stretch marks completely.

Topical applications- These are creams, gels and lotions accessible over the counter. They are basically skin moisturizers. Like Bio-Oil which is meant to improve the appearance of stretch marks without removing them completely.

Microdermabrasion- this procedure is not advisable for deep-sited scars. It uses an hand held machine which sprays an exfoliative tiny crystals on the skin. These crystals remove the outer skin layer leaving it to regenerate with time.



Causes of stretch marks- NHS Choices. Address:
Marfan syndrome- NHS Choices. Address:
Cortisol Why "The Stress Hormone" Is Public Enemy No.1 
Stretch marks- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Address:]
Stretch marks- treatment; NHS Choices. Address:
Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion- WebMD. Address: