WHAT ARE STRETCH MARKS?
Stretch marks also called Striae are over stretched skin usually like a form of scarring on the skin. They appear as thin lines or bands especially if several of them are parallel or close.
Both men and women can get stretch marks. Many think stretch marks happen to fat people only but even thin people get them. Many of us don’t notice our stretch marks for a while until they become pronounced. This is most often because they don’t hurt or irritate the skin and sometimes because they come out in parts of the body our eyes hardly get to; parts like our lower backs, buttocks and behind thighs then the day they are brought to your attention by the opposite sex or some mouthy friend, you are like what ????! With your eyes widely open. That actually happened to me in boarding school when I was about having my bath and from that day I started noticing them on most of my friends. Some people get to discover them on the beach or at the pool. It is not medically dangerous but can be disfiguring, causing emotional and psychological distress leading to lack of self confidence.
Stretch marks can occur anywhere but common places of appearance are the abdomen, lower back, breasts, upper arms, under arms, thighs, hips and buttocks
CAUSES OF STRETCH MARKS
A study in the British Journal of Dermatology investigated what could be causing stretch marks at the molecular level. Researchers found that the Elastic fibres network in the dermis which gives the skin its elastic nature and its ability to regain its shape after stretching are disrupted in stretch marks.
This is because the skin tries to repair the disrupted elastic network but it does not appear to be effective, which then brings about the lax and loose skin seen in more mature stretch marks.
As explained above, they come about when the skin fibres stretch beyond their capacity to snap back and that’s why you are likely to get stretch marks during the following changes;
- Rapid weight gain or weight loss: When it’s rapid, there is little time for skin to stretch thereby leading to stretch marks.
- Pregnancy: Pregnancy will stretch the mid-section of a woman’s body causing stretch marks.
- Weight lifting and Body building: muscles get pulled and skin fibres are stretched beyond recovery leading to stretch marks.
- People experiencing rapid growth especially during puberty can get stretch marks on areas like hips, breasts, thighs.
- Inherited genes, skin type and diet plans are possible causes.
TREATING STRETCH MARKS
Have you ever heard that stretch marks can be treated? Well, me too but I have never experienced or seen them disappear completely leaving no scars especially when it comes to Old stretch marks. Various things have been tried but there is no clear useful treatment for stretch marks.
Efforts like Laser treatments, glycolic acid, microdermabasion and many others have been made. But once you get them, you’ve got them and can only wait for them to fade over time. The treatments have proven effective in reducing their appearance over time but also depends on how long you’ve had stretch marks and your skin type too.
Microdermabasion is a type of treatment that involves a hand-held device which blows crystals unto the skin that removes fine layers of skin, thereby promoting the growth of new elastic skin.
The above mentioned methods are quite painful and expensive. How many of us can afford a laser treatment? Stretch marks are not medically dangerous for us to go to such extents.
There are home remedies that you can consider which are less expensive and not dangerous. Most of them are oils or contain oils because oil has skin healing properties and can easily penetrate the skin. Application of the following has also proven effective in reducing the appearance of stretch marks with time. You just need to be patient.
- Vitamin E oil: This is Good for pregnant women. Apply Vitamin E oil on the mid-section of the body when 5 months pregnant and above. This is to help prevent stretch marks during pregnancy.
- Olive oil and Coconut oil: Apply a good quantity of one in the morning and the other in the evening. After application, massage affected area well for about 15minutes or more.
Know that Stretch marks usually appear parallel to each other so using your palms, apply oils and massage in a way to directly cut through them that is perpendicularly. Do not massage with oil following the direction of stretch marks.
- African Shea butter: This treatment has also helped in rapid fading of stretch marks. This is what I used and it is quite good for old stretch marks.
Do not heat Shea butter to melt it. It is preferable to use it like that.
When bathing, use a body brush to brush through the parallel stretch marks in a way of cutting through them (that is brush perpendicularly). Just brush continually for about 5 to 10 minutes.
After showering, dry and apply a good quantity of African Shea butter on stretch marks. Allow it for a while before putting on cloths.
Whatever treatment you choose, apply it patiently for weeks and you will notice great results.