What is the truth about stretch marks? There are quite a number of myths about these marks and it’s time to clear up some things about them.
You get them from scratching any area that is rapidly expanding either due to pregnancy or weight gain. Odd as it seems women, especially pregnant women, are often cautioned not to “scratch” itchy areas for the fear of developing stretch marks. This is simply not true. Stretch marks may be caused by a number of things but scratching simply isn’t one of them. These marks, medically known as striae, may develop due to constant pressure on the skin through rapid stretching. The skin is normally very resilient when it comes to stretching but when coupled with hormonal changes in the body the collagen fibers may become vulnerable enough to break. In the case of pregnant women, the hormones that are responsible for softening the ligaments in the pelvic region to allow passage to the baby are also the same hormones that make the collagen on your skin more prone to breakage. The collagen breakage then leads to small microscopic tears on the dermal layer that now develop into stretch marks.
How exactly do you get stretch marks? You get them through any of the following ways:
- Rapid weight loss or weight gain
- Increased glucocorticoid hormone in the body
- Growth spurt
- Body building
You can’t get stretch marks if you’re skinny. Even if the most common way to get stretch marks is through rapid weight loss or weight gain, you may also get them in other ways. One such other way is through puberty and rapid growth spurts.
Weight loss and exercise will help prevent them. On the contrary, rapid weight loss and excessive exercise may even exacerbate the appearance of your stretch marks. Although toning exercises may help skin look taut it simply cannot prevent stretch marks from happening. Another thing to note, it seems that people who take steroids to hasten the improvement of their performance are also more prone to developing stretch marks.
Drinking copious amounts of water will help keep stretch marks at bay. The best that water can do for your skin is flush toxins out and keep it moist and supple. Unfortunately, this is hardly enough to overcome any predisposition to developing stretch marks, especially if you are genetically predisposed to developing them. We hate to say it but the statement holds some truth to it, “if your mother had them, you’ll probably get them too”.
Only women can get stretch marks. It doesn’t seem fair but our higher body fat content does tend to encourage more stretch mark formation. This is not so say however that only women can get stretch marks. Men, especially those who work out or yo-yo diet, are not completely exempt from stretch marks. The collagen fibers are denser in men’s skin compared to women’s. This may help male skin to resist the development of both cellulite and stretch marks but it does not mean they cannot develop either of the two.
Lathering on moisturizing formulas and stretch mark cream regularly (or during pregnancy) can help prevent stretch marks. This is both true and false. Many women have reported a significant difference in the development of stretch marks between pregnancies in which they used stretch mark creams vs. pregnancies in which they didn’t. This is the reason why these creams are still in the market, for some reason they seem to work for some women. There is no peer reviewed research to prove their effectiveness however. All the researches done on this stuff seem agree only on one thing, that these formulations are basically just heavy moisturizers.
Moisturizing MAY make the skin more resistant to stretching and remove stretch marks IF the sole reason for developing the marks depended on weight loss or weight gain. However, that is not the case. Other factors such as heredity and hormone levels in the body play quite a crucial role in stretch mark development and we’re pretty sure that over the counter drugs cannot alter or influence your genes.
Seeing these myths debunked may make most of you lose hope about your stretch marks. Not to worry though as you may still have some options left. It just doesn’t, unfortunately, come straight out of the bottle.