Stretch marks are quite common in many women (when they become pregnant) and men due to obesity. It is not a symptom of underlying medical issue. It appears as small streaks on the skin mostly on the belly region for pregnant women. In medical terms stretch marks are called striae distensae. When the skin gets stretched beyond certain limit it leaves liner streaks on the body causing stretch marks. It starts as flat red lines and gradually transform into white streaks. Stretch marks are commonly seen in men and women in places like thighs, stomach, chest and groin.
What exactly cause stretch marks is not known. But it is believed to be caused due to the damage done to the soft elastic fibers of the dermis layer of the skin which would develop inflammation leaving scars or stretch marks. Pregnancy is one of the major causes for getting stretch marks. It can also be caused on the skin area that is overly stretched (during pregnancy the abdomen gets stretched very much).
Overweight can cause rapid increase in body mass in certain body parts which in turn causes stretch marks. Excess use of topical drugs like steroids can cause stretch marks on the skin. Marfan’s syndrome, Cushing’s disease and Ehlers Danlos syndrome can also cause stretch marks.
Who will get Stretch Marks ?
It is difficult to predict who will get stretch marks. Not all the pregnant women are getting stretch marks but more than half of them would get it. Some factors obviously increase the chance of getting stretch marks. If you have family history of stretch marks then you are likely to get it. Teenagers who get pregnant have increased chance of getting stretch marks.
Obesity plays a major role in getting stretch marks; hence overweight people will get stretch marks rapidly. If you are carrying twin babies in your uterus then you are likely to get stretch marks. Similarly if the baby is big in size you will get stretch marks for sure.
Stretch marks can be seen as small soft thin lines on the skin. They do not cause any pain and no noticeable symptoms are available to describe stretch marks except thin lining of red streaks on the skin.
No laboratory tests are needed to identify stretch marks since it can be easily diagnosed by physical examination.
You cannot do much to prevent getting stretch marks. Maintaining a healthy weight decrease the chances of developing stretch marks. So far no cream or oil or salves are able to provide permanent relief from stretch marks. And stretch marks do not disappear completely. It becomes less noticeable after some years.
No medication or topical cream can provide solution for stretch marks. But they can minimize them to some extent. Topical creams that contain Retin A and glycolic acid are used largely for removing stretch marks. But you should not use it if you are breastfeeding stage.
Some experts do laser therapy for restoring the lost thickness and elasticity of the skin. But it is very expensive and it takes long time to become effective. You will not get any insurance cover since removing stretch marks is a cosmetic process and not medical issue. No concrete proof is available that any creams or gels will make good of stretch marks on the skin.