STRETCH MARKS: WHY THEY APPEAR AND HOW TO GET RID OF THEM
Stretch marks are long, narrow streaks, stripes, or lines that develop on the skin. They happen when the skin is suddenly stretched and are extremely common. Anyone can develop stretch marks, although they tend to affect more women than men.
They can happen on a range of body parts, including the stomach, thighs, hips, breasts, upper arms, and lower back.
A stretch mark is a type of scar that develops when our skin stretches or shrinks quickly. The abrupt change causes the collagen and elastin, which support our skin, to rupture. As the skin heals, stretch marks may appear.
Not everyone develops these narrow bands on their skin. Fluctuating hormone levels seem to play a role. You may also have a higher risk if people in your family get stretch marks.
Before stretch marks begin to emerge, the skin can appear thin and pink. It may also feel irritated or itchy.
The marks initially develop as wrinkly, raised streaks that can be red, purple, pink, reddish-brown or dark brown, depending on skin color. The streaks eventually fade and flatten and tend to change to a silvery color over time.
If you develop stretch marks, you’re most likely to do so during these times:
- Growth spurts that happen in puberty
- Rapid weight loss or gain
- Weight training when you have rapid muscle growth
Applying a corticosteroid to your skin for a long time can also cause stretch marks.
Like any scar, stretch marks are permanent, but treatment may make them less noticeable. Treatment can also help alleviate the itch.
It’s essential to understand that no single treatment works for everyone — and many products don’t seem to work at all. Here’s what researchers have discovered about the many treatments for stretch marks.
Stretch mark creams, lotions, and gels: Researchers have studied many of the creams, lotions, and gels sold to treat stretch marks. While no one product seems to help all of the time — and some don’t seem to help at all — researchers have discovered some helpful hacks.
If you want to try one of these creams, lotions, or gels to fade stretch marks, be sure to:
- Use the product on early stretch marks. Treatment seems to have little effect on mature stretch marks.
- Massage the product into your stretch marks. Taking time to massage the product gently into your skin may make it more effective.
- Apply the product every day for weeks. If you see results, they take weeks to appear.
Self-tanner: While tanning can make stretch marks more noticeable, a self-tanner can camouflage stretch marks — both early and mature ones. A self-tanner cannot get of rid of stretch marks.