Stretch marks are indented streaks that are generally purple, red or pink in color. They are generally located on the buttocks, breasts, upper arms, thighs and abdomen. Women in the latter part of pregnancy tend to have stretch marks due to the excessive stretching of their skin.

Although the sight of these streaks may cause you some concern, you need to know that they are not harmful and will often fade over a number of years. However, they can also be a symptom of serious medical conditions such as Cushing’s syndrome or adrenal gland disease. Although there are many treatments that can cause the color of stretch marks to fade, the scars will not be completely removed.

 

Symptoms

If you have indented streaks or lines in the skin that appear unnatural, it is likely that these are stretch marks. Although it is rare, there are cases where stretch marks cover a substantial amount of the body and cause considerable stress to those with this problem. If you have widespread stretch marks, it is best to see a doctor as soon as possible.

Causes

Stretch marks are literally a result of extreme skin stretching along with cortisone increase. Cortisone is a hormone that adrenal glands produce and it causes the elastic fibers in the skin to weaken. The four main causes of stretch marks are:

  • Pregnancy: This is the most common cause. It typically happens towards the end of the pregnancy because of the skin stretching combined with a list of hormonal factors.
  • Extreme Weight Gain: Periods of excessive weight gain play havoc with your skin. It is not unusual for teenagers to get stretch marks during a quick growth spurt and even weightlifters can get stretch marks if they bulk up too fast.
  • Medication: Use of systemic or oral steroids can cause stretch marks as can usage of corticosteroid creams.
  • Medical Issues: The aforementioned Cushing’s syndrome and adrenal gland diseases can contribute to the formation of stretch marks. Other conditions that could cause the same problem include Marfan and Ehlers-Danlos syndromes.

Treatments

The various treatments for stretch marks are covered in depth on other posts on this website. The wisest choice is probably any cream that is capable of increasing collagen production. This gives the skin greater elasticity and can help fade the color of stretch marks over time. Expensive laser therapy treatments are wholly unnecessary and will not produce noticeably better results than the top collagen producing creams.

Prevention

There is no known way of guaranteeing that you will completely avoid stretch marks. You can reduce the risk by avoiding excessive weight gain and corticosteroids and by rubbing the aforementioned creams on your skin during pregnancy. Stretch marks are said to be genetic so if your family has a history of stretch marks, it is unlikely that you will escape.