Stretch marks, a condition of cosmetic concern can be defined as the appearance of lines, marks or streaks on the skin surface, on the areas like belly, hips, thighs, chest and upper arms.
The condition is medically known as striae.
Stretch marks are known to be getting formed on the skin during certain conditions like - last trimesters of pregnancy, rapid excess weight gain, bodybuilding, teenagers at the time of puberty, high intake of steroids or toxins.
Though females are known to be at high risk of getting stretch marks, men too are prone to getting stretch marks.
The stretch marks, initially formed are red, pink or purple in color, but when they mature they turn to be of off-white or grey in color.
Stretch marks are known to be formed on the dermis layer of the skin, which is the second of the three layers of skin present after the epidermis layer.
Excess stretching of the skin, much beyond the capacity which the skin can bear makes collagen fibers get weakened and hence damaged. T
his leads dermis layer to occur only at certain places, and hence damaged or broken at other places.
However, the appearance of stretch marks is not same in all the patients but keeps varying.
This difference arises due to the difference in the skin texture, complexion or how long the stretch marks are present on the skin of the patient.
People with fair complexion are known to have red or pink stretch marks, whereas people with dark complexion are known to have darker stretch marks, depending on the skin tone.
15 Myths regarding stretch marks
There are lots of myths regarding stretch marks. Here we discuss some of the most common 15 myths:
1. Men don’t get stretch marks
This is absolutely a myth, though the majority of patients those who get stretch marks are women.
Even though men can also be affected by this problem and the causes in men are also similar as in women.
Also, teenage boys are also affected by stretch marks during puberty.
2. Thin people don’t get stretch marks
Thin people too get stretch marks, cause they too can undergo hormonal changes.
If thin people suffer from some genetic diseases like Cushing's syndrome, they too can get stretch marks.
3. It’s not possible to prevent stretch marks
It is truly possible to prevent stretch marks from occurring, by having a healthy diet and keeping the body hydrated.
Regular exercises and using moisturizers to moisturize the skin are also known to prevent stretch marks from forming.
4. Stretch marks can be eliminated completely
This is absolutely wrong statement since we know that stretch marks are formed on the dermis layer of the skin, which is the second layer and next to the epidermis.
However, stretch marks can fade to a much larger extent but no treatment can completely eliminate these stretch marks.
5. Stretch marks will heal on their own as time passes
Stretch marks are like any other scars, which do not heal on their own with time until certain changes in diet and lifestyle are followed.
This is because the damaged elastin fibers of the skin cannot heal on its own with time.
6. Stretch marks go away as one loses weight
This is a myth as stretch marks could fade, but never go as one loses weight.
This is because skin that has got thin and stretched to form stretch marks, does not easily return back to normal.
Stretch marks don’t disappear with weight loss but can, however, fade in color.
7. Stretch marks can occur only on stomach
This myth is conceptually wrong as stretch marks generally occur in those areas which are high-fat storing areas, such as thighs, breast, hips and upper arms which are also equally prone to getting stretch marks.
8. Stretch marks are caused by stretching of the skin and tears due to weight gain or pregnancy
This is true that sudden excess weight gain and pregnancy can cause stretch marks.
However, other reasons like sudden growth, intensive hormonal activity, stress, high intake of toxins, lack of vitamins and certain steroidal drugs are known to be among the most popular causes for the formation of stretch marks.
9. Stretch marks do not change colour
This myth is known to be absolutely wrong as initially stretch marks appear as red, pink or purple lines.
This is due to the color of blood vessels which become visible due to tearing up of the dermis layer of the skin.
However, when matured these stretch marks fade to off-white or grey color with silvery lining as the blood vessels contract, which also depends on your skin color.
10. Tanning could remove stretch marks
Tanning cannot ever remove stretch marks, in fact, it only covers stretch marks.
However, in some cases it could also worsen the appearance of stretch mark especially the white stretch marks because these are scars which do not tan.
Also, the skin surrounding the stretch marks tans or darkens, but not the stretch marks and hence they become more visible.
11. Your diet does not affect stretch marks
Dietitians and dermatologists suggest that a nourishing, balanced diet rich in vitamin A, E and C. The diet ample in anti-oxidants and omega-3 fatty acids are known to prevent stretch marks to a great extent.
Taking this precaution in mind, can help completely prevent stretch marks even if they are genetically predisposed.
12. Keeping yourself hydrated has not effect on stretch marks
it is clinically known that keeping your body hydrated both internally as well as externally, by regularly having 8-10 glasses of water, avoiding caffeine and consuming herbal tea are known to be taken as a preventive measure for prevention of stretch marks.
13. Stretch marks treatment are covered by insurance
Stretch marks at present are not covered under any insurance schemes. This is because stretch marks don’t present any health risks.
These come under the category of cosmetic concern. Thus, treatments like laser surgery, microdermabrasion and other procedures are not covered under any insurance plans.
14. Only pregnant women will get stretch marks
It is not true, other people could also get stretch marks like people who have rapidly gained excess weight, teenage boys and girls undergoing puberty, those undergoing hormonal therapy or people with certain genetic diseases.
Bodybuilders are also prone to getting stretch marks due to rapid body changes.
15. Hormones have no role to play in the formation of stretch marks
Tt is proved that the genes are a catalyst for the formation of stretch marks, which are most often formed due to hormonal surges.
These hormonal changes might also target certain proteins of the skin which support skin cell function.
Hormonal changes during teenage can also lead to stretch marks.
Thus, hormonal changes are known to be one of the main causes of stretch marks.
There are certain myths associated with stretch marks.
Some of the most common myths are that stretch marks can only occur in women, and cannot be prevented if taken of your diet and one stays hydrated.
Other myths include that only pregnant women can get stretch marks, and thin people cannot get stretch marks.
Some commonly believed myths are that insurance plans include stretch marks, stretch marks can only occur on stomach and stretch marks get eliminated or healed with time.
However, it becomes extremely important to burst out these myths and know the truth behind these stretch marks for a beautiful and lively skin.