What are Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks are the off-coloured stripes or streaks formed on the skin as a result of swift stretching of skin or weight changes. They mainly appear on abdomen due to pregnancy or obesity. In dermatology, they are termed as Striae.
They are formed due to hormonal changes related to pregnancy, puberty, hormone replacement therapy, etc. Stretch marks can be commonly seen on waist, thighs, lower backs, hips, breasts, arms, and buttocks. How are these stretch marks formed? The skin of the human body consists of three main layers:
- Epidermis (the outer layer)
- Dermis (the middle layer)
- Hypodermic (the deepest and third layer)
When the connective tissue is stretched due to the expansion and contraction of skin, the stretch marks starts developing on the dermis or the middle layer of the skin. With the stretch in skin, the collagen gets weak, and the elastin fibres start tearing.
Due to this, its normal production cycle gets damaged or interrupted. This results in the formation of fine scars under the epidermis or the top layer of the skin. Initially, they appear red or pink, but gradually, they turned into thin silvery line.
Stretch marks are not a disease, which infects the human body, but are the scars formed due to contraction and expansion of skin. They are basically caused by stretching of the skin. Their appearance depends on the type of skin. These ugly stretch marks are caused due to:
- The physical stretching of the skin at the end of pregnancy.
- Extraordinary weight gain, specially on arms, thighs, etc.
- Use of certain medications, including lotions, pills, Corticosteroid creams, and steroids.
- Adrenal gland diseases, Cushing’s syndrome, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
- Genetic disorders
- Muscle building
- Hormonal changes during puberty
What are the signs of stretch marks? No one would ever like to have stretch marks on their skin. They commonly appear on the places where a large amount of fats is deposited. Some of the symptoms which help to recognize the development of stretch marks are as follows:
- The skin becomes pink, flattened and thin before the development of stretch marks.
- Development of red, pink, or purple lines on the skin.
- Affected area becomes soft in touch.
- At the initial phase, these lines appear wrinkly and somewhat raised.
- With the passage of time, these lines convert into silver or white in colour.
- They may also appear in patches of parallel lines.
- They appear as scar.