Every person experiences stretch marks at least one time in their life. But what are the stretch marks? How do they appear? What causes them?
Those are all questions, which people give different answers to, and as a result, there are many controversial opinions about this topic.
In this article, you will find the truth about the stretch marks’ nature and causes from a scientific point of view.
If you are ready to learn, let’s go!
What are stretch marks?
Stretch marks (also known as striae) are a type of skin scars, which appear on specific body areas: boobs, belly, obliques, thighs, butt, etc. They look like stripes and often have pinkish/whitish color. Everybody may struggle with this skin condition, no matter age, race, or sex. Fortunately, just like cellulite, this condition is not health-threatening.
The stretch marks appear when the skin is put under a lot of pressure for a short time. The scars appear when the connective tissue of the skin (located in the dermis layer) stretches and tears quickly. This way, the dermis skin layer changes with a faster pace than it can adapt to. At the same time, the epidermis manages to produce enough lipids to create a protective barrier for the stretched areas of the skin. This is the reason why the stretch marks look like healed cuts.
*Keep in mind that by fast stretching, I mean months, not days or hours.
What causes stretch marks?
Striae is mainly caused by rapid growth or drastic weight changes. Those are often consequences of certain life stages, or other factors, such as:
- Pregnancy. Then striae are usually found in the area of the belly.
- Puberty. The affected areas are usually breasts and thighs.
- Intake of certain medications (steroids, HRT). They contribute to overall weight gain and skin stretch in multiple zones of the body.
- Hormonal imbalance. Usually, such a condition is connected to water retention and weight gain. As a result, skin in a lot of areas is being stretched.
For example, high levels of cortisone hormone increase the chance for stretch marks (this hormone can be found in steroid creams). Cortisone hormone is responsible for preventing collagen and elastin production in the dermis. Elastin and collagen are protein compounds which are responsible for the skin’s elasticity and suppleness. However, when the skin stretches, it urgently needs those two compounds to retain its healthy look.
Any lack or deficiency of collagen and elastin increases the chance for striae appearance.
See why anti-stretchmarks creams don’t work in our dedicated article!