The little imperfections on the skin, commonly known as stretch marks don’t cause any significant medical complications. But they pose a lot of concern for beauty conscious people. Stretch marks are fine lines on the skin that are medically known as stria. There is an amazing fact about stretch marks – they are not the result of skin stretching. All of us associate these silver marks with pregnancy, weight gain and weight loss. But this is so not true, and the name ‘stretch marks’ add to this misconception. Yes, stretching is associated with these marks, but this is not the sole reason behind stretch marks.
The Truth Behind Stretch Marks
The actual cause of stretch marks is hormones. Yes, that’s right! Elevated levels of glucocorticoids in the body produced by the adrenal glands during weight gain, pregnancy and puberty cause stretch marks to develop. These hormones are metabolized by fat cells, and stimulate the conversion of proteins into carbohydrates affecting fibroblasts in the dermal layers of the skin. Now, as the proteins get converted into carbohydrates, there is a reduction in collagen and elastin making proteins in the skin. You might be thinking that why only pregnant women and people with rapid weight gain develop stretch marks. This is because when the skin expands continuously without skin fibers, it tears apart. These changes are then accompanied by serious hormonal changes in the body. Initially stretch marks are reddish in color, but then gradually they turn silver with time. Stretch marks don’t look same on every skin tone; they vary in different skin colors. Along with this main cause of stretch marks, let’s have a look at some additional causes as well:
Heredity: this simply means that if your family has them, you are probably going to have them too. So, genetic factor also plays a significant role in this. Although they occur in both genders, they are more likely to affect women.
Intake of high doses of steroids: whether oral or over-the-counter steroids, both of them affect skin equally. They work in the same way as the hormones produced by adrenal glands work.
Rapid weight gain: If you gain a good amount of weight in a short period of time, you may get stretch marks and they remain on the body, even, if you lose weight. That is why doctors advise to lose weight slowly.
Puberty: During this period body often grows rapidly. Women get marks on their breasts and hips, and men on their backs and shoulders.
Health disorders: Certain health conditions like Cushing’s syndrome and Marfan’s syndrome occurs when the body produces high levels of cortisol. People with these disorders are more prone to stretch marks because it weakens your body tissues and affects elasticity. Stretch marks developing because of Cushing’s syndrome are more severe and colored.
Pregnancy: During pregnancy, the womb is forced to accommodate the growing uterus and thus tears the skin from the stomach area. But this also depends upon the natural elasticity of your skin.