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Today in Health & Wellness

Stretch Marks

Risk Factors
Treatment and Management
Home Remedies
Doctors to Consult

Stretch marks or striae are characterized by pink, red or purple indented, linear streaks. It appears on a skin that has been overstretched and can usually be found on the thighs, abdomen, chest, arms and groin.

Stretch marks are caused by rapid stretching of the skin due to sudden weight changes. The stretching causes the middle layer of the skin (dermis) to tear which allows the deeper layer of the skin to show through, forming the stretch marks. The dermis has strong, interconnected fibers that allow the skin to stretch as the body grows. However, sudden growth can over-stretch and tear the fibers. Those tears let blood vessels below to show through which is why stretch marks are often red or purple when they first appear.

After the blood vessels eventually contract, the pale-colored fat underneath the skin will be more visible, changing the stretch marks to a silvery-white color.

Risk Factors
  • Females are more prone to getting stretch marks
  • Family history of stretch marks
  • Pregnancy
  • Rapid weight gain or loss
  • Using corticosteroid medication
  • Adolescents in puberty stage due to growth spurts
  • Underlying health condition such as Marfan syndrome.
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Treatment and Management

Stretch marks are harmless and may fade over time. While there are treatments available, they only focus on fading to improve the appearance of a stretch mark but will not eliminate them entirely. Here are the available treatments to improve stretch marks:

  • Tretinoin creams can help improve stretch marks by stimulating collagen growth, making stretch mark look more like your normal skin. However, it can irritate the skin and can not be used while you are pregnant. This treatment is only recommended for recent (less than few months old) stretch marks and is not effective on older stretch marks.
  • Laser therapy uses intense wavelengths of light to stimulate the growth of collagen, elastin or melanin production. The appropriate type of laser depends on the age and location of the stretch marks and your skin color.
  • Microdermabrasion is the treatment of choice for older stretch marks. Microdermabrasion removes the skin's topmost layer which stimulates the growth of new, more elastic skin.
Home Remedies
  • Eat skin-nourishing diet. Eat foods that are rich in antioxidant properties to help protect and nourish the skin like fruits and vegetables. Vitamin A-rich foods like carrots, squash and sweet potatoes, assist in repairing the tissue of the skin. Foods rich in Omega-3 and 6 will make your skin glow and keep the cell membranes healthy. Omega-rich foods include eggs, oysters, walnuts, and fish.
  • Increase fluid intake. Liquids help detoxify the body and keep skin cells plump, making the skin healthy. Drink 8 glasses of water a day. You may alternate water with fruit juices.
  • Exercise. It improves blood circulation which makes the skin more elastic, enabling it to stretch as it grows.
  • Watch your weight. Rapid weight gain can give you stretch marks. Avoid overeating and moderate food intake.
  • Moisturize. Apply lotions and creams with shea butter, almond oil, wheat germ oil, pure lanolin and cocoa butter to moisturize and hydrate your skin to improve elasticity.
Doctors to Consult
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