Here Dr Charlotte Middleton - Integrative Medical Practitioner shares knowledge on how to treat them. One way is with twice daily application of Bio-Oil.
Stretch marks occur during periods of rapid changes in weight (e.g. teenage growth spurts, pregnancy) when the body expands faster than the skin covering it, causing internal tears in the skin tissue. When these tears repair themselves they form scars that are known as stretch marks.
In medical terms stretch marks (striae) are simply another form of scarring, however, most people view them differently to scars. Striae are lines on the skin that develop as a result of rapid changes in weight of, for example, pregnant women, body builders, and adolescents during their growth spurt. They are caused by exactly what their name suggests - stretching. Lighter-skinned people tend to develop pinkish stretch marks, whereas darker-skinned people tend to have stretch marks that are lighter than the surrounding skin.
The skin is naturally elastic. This elasticity is provided by the collagen and elastin in the dermis (underlying skin tissue). Collagen is made up of a group of naturally occurring proteins and is a key component of the body’s connective tissue. Elastin, which is also made up of naturally occurring proteins, is also found in connective tissue and provides the elastic properties of the tissue. This connective tissue enables the dermis to adapt to continuous movement of the body by expanding and contracting, but during periods of rapid weight gain it may have insufficient time to adjust, causing internal tears in the skin tissue. When these tears repair themselves they form the scars that we know as stretch marks.
A useful analogy of this is that of a spring being stretched. If you stretch a spring within a certain range (known as its natural elastic limit) it contracts back to its original size time and again. However, if you overstretch the spring beyond its natural elastic limit, it becomes permanently stretched and will not spring back to its original size.
Although stretch marks do not represent a significant medical problem, they can cause emotional distress to those who develop them. The likelihood of developing them varies according to skin type, age, heredity, diet and the hydration of the skin.
Dr Charlotte Middleton – says: “I see a lot of teenagers who have developed stretch marks due to the rapid rate at which their body is growing. During puberty, adolescents can experience rapid growth spurts in height or weight, and certain body parts such as the breasts, thighs and tummy can develop quite quickly and so can be prone to stretch marks. It can affect both males and females, although it is more common amongst female teenagers”.
“Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to stretch marks. Unfortunately there is not a lot you can do about your skin type, genetics, age or family history. But there is a lot you can do about your skin condition and its elasticity. Keeping the skin soft and supple with the regular application of creams or oils, well hydrated by consuming good amounts of water and well nourished by eating a diet rich in vitamins A, C and E – will all reduce your risk of stretch marks.
It is never too late to treat stretch marks, but obviously the longer you have them, the more difficult it will be to completely erase them. Treatment options include: topical creams and oils, radiotherapy, laser therapy, dermabrasion, injectables and in some cases, surgical removal. Stretch marks in no way pose a threat, but a lot of women feel self-conscious, worried or even ashamed about them. In these instances, they should seek advice from their GP.”
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