Striae gravidarum which is the most common type of stretch marks are parallel red, pink or off-color hue appearing on the skin which changes color over some time when the skin does not effectively manage or adapt to certain changes that happen to it.
Striae gravidarum can appear on different parts of the body and in varying intensity depending on the skin condition and the cause. Striae usually start as microscopic tears within the epidermis when the available skin fibers responsible for strength and elasticity can no longer sustain the skin through the changes that happen to it. These tears create tiny long spaces within the dermis which later appear as red or pink line on the surface of the skin.
Signs and Symptoms of Striae
Striae gravidarum usually start to appear as pink or red lines; the parts of the skin with these lines can feel tender to touch and can also appear to be empty in some cases especially ones with greater intensity or coverage. Although not very common, dryness may be noticed with the skin. Lack of moisture have been linked with the causes of striae and most effective treatments for stretch marks usually include ingredients that act as moisturizers to make sure that the skin is kept hydrated at all times.
Striae gravidarum can appear on any part of the body but the places they are prevalent are the hip, tummy, lower back, buttocks, thighs, around the shoulders, arms and at the back of the legs. The places they affect are often influenced by the cause, for example, body builders usually experience stretch marks between the side of the chest and shoulders, while pregnant women can have them around the tummy.
Causes of Striae Gravidarum
While there are no known causes of striae they can also be associated with other internal factors of the skin. The causes include
- Rapid weight gain
- Low maternal age
- High body mass index
- Changes resulting from quick weight loss
- Hormonal changes during puberty or pregnancy
- Changes to the body from consistent body building
Greater percentage of all stretch marks occurs as a result of weight gain especially ones that are up to 15kg. Growing weight rapidly without a corresponding expansion in the skin to accommodate the increase in can result to striae; parts of the body with more fat accumulation will have the highest level of the striae. Supporting the skin at times of rapid weight loss should be ensured to make sure that striae does not occur. Supporting the skin means ensuring that its strength and elasticity are maintained as well as keeping it constantly hydrated. For people who have high body weight, keeping the skin properly hydrated and ensuring that the fibers which are responsible for the skin’s strength and elasticity are maintained at an adequate level are some of the things to ensure when using an effective weight loss therapy. Surprisingly, weight loss especially ones that are sudden is also one of the causes of striae.
Some hormones especially ones produced during pregnancy and puberty can play roles in the appearance of stretch marks; for example, glucocorticoid in a substantial amount will hinder fibroblast from producing elastin and collagen. It is the elastin and collagen fibers that enable supportive tissues which produce elasticity and strength properties, in their absence even minor changes in can cause the skin to tear. Low maternal age which is an addition of rapid weight gain and the subsiding effects of puberty period causes the occurrence of striae.
Stretch marks are also common with body builders during active periods. They can also appear (although there are few cases) during inactive periods as the body begins to return to its former state. Building forces the skin overlying the muscles to expand; the skin can grow with the expansion but when it does not have what it takes (elasticity and strength) it will resort to tearing on reaching the limit that the available strength can sustain.
Yet, it is still possible to find people who go through one or some of these changes without having stretch marks and it will completely depend on the level of support that the skin has during the period. Provided that the skin expands along with increase in weight and contracts with reduction such as during weight loss it will hardly tear or experience striae. The fact is that there are always changes taking place in the skin and a healthy skin will be able to sustain itself through all of those changes. The two major fibers that are responsible for making the skin to be firm and elastic are collagen and elastin, the former prevents the skin from breaking when it is excessively contracted or stretched while the later helps it to expand or contract along with the body as the case may be. There can be shortage of these fibers in the skin as a result of not getting them from their sources or by consuming less of their sources or due to the action of free radicals. Free radicals oxidize these fibers and some others fibers in the skin in order to attain a stable state. Free radicals are like atoms with seven valence electrons seeking additional one electron to attain a stable state – they can only do this by using up the electrons of other atoms around them.
Vitamin E is the main anti-oxidant in the skin that neutralizes the effects of free radicals, so one of the factors leading to the occurrence of striae includes and is mainly the lack of vitamin E; aside this, one other factor that may pave way to the occurrence of striae gravidarum is lack of adequate water in the skin, water is an essential factor in maintaining a fairly elastic skin.
Prevention of Striae Gravidarum
Some of the best measures to take to prevent striae gravidarum are
- keeping the skin hydrated at all times – using cocoa butter can help in this aspect;
- supplying the skin with enough collagen and elastin which will ensure that the skin’s strength and elasticity are maintained; and
- fortifying the skin with more vitamin E to prevent the reduction of collagen and elastin by free radicals.
There are natural stuffs that can provide the skin with these things but the best results have always been seen with the use of an effective stretch prevention cream that is blended with these ingredients responsible for these things in the correct formula. Using an anti-stretch mark cream when you are expecting striae gravidarum is also a good measure, the second trimester of pregnancy is time that is best to start using a stretch mark prevention cream. Using an effective stretch mark prevention cream will be very useful.
Treatment of Striae Gravidarum
The treatment for striae gravidarum includes preventing further appearance of striae and the visible marks on the surface of the skin and fading the existing marks on the skin. While natural substance works it is better to use a well formulated cream with natural ingredients to stop and fade stretch marks. Using natural ingredients in their raw state will be slow in providing positive results but quicker results can be observed when they are blended in a cream. Stretch mark creams that use natural ingredients are also free from side effects. The other advantage of using creams is that they are highly effective, creams such as Revitol Stretch Mark cream additionaly helps to improve the tone and texture of the skin, helping to improve the overall beauty of the skin.
Be careful when making choice for what to use because most of the stretch mark creams with big claims have several limitations. The other thing to note is that fading stretch marks may require time especially if the stretch marks are old – old stretch marks are known by their grey or silver-like color. Fading old stretch marks may take several months. The best ingredients for healing striae, i.e the most effective ingredients for stretch mark products are
- Vitamin E
- Aloe vera
- squalene oil
- vitamin A and D3
- grape fruit seed extract
It is advised that you start treating striae as soon as you notice it because it will be easier to fade the marks and will also help you to minimize the cost of treatment.