What Causes Stretch Marks?

Stretch marks are among the most frustrating visible skin signs. Just about everyone as is familiar with them. They can strike men and women of various ages. And when determining what causes stretch marks, there are a great many potential factors at play.

When they first appear, stretch marks are usually purple or red in color. Over time they fade a bit, but they usually remain imprinted as faint indicators. Doctors often refer to this phenomenon as “stria,” which the dictionary describes as “a linear mark, slight ridge or groove on a surface, often one of a number of similar parallel features.” That seems accurate enough. But while we know what they are and what we look like, many don’t fully understand what causes stretch marks. There are some common factors that most people are aware of, but also some other potential contributors.

In addition to examining the causes, we will then go over some methods for getting rid of stretch marks. To be clear, you can’t make them go away completely. But there are some solid tactics for reducing their appearance and severity.

Just What Causes Stretch Marks?

There are several factors that can be responsible for the development of these hindering skin marks. They appear most frequently on the stomach, breasts, thighs, buttocks and upper arms. Here are the most common reasons that stretch marks present:

Rapid Weight Gain

Too many of us are familiar with this one. If you go through a period in life where you gain weight in a hurry, or you add a significant number of pounds over a longer period of time, it can stretch out the skin. As if it wasn’t already frustrating enough to gain weight. And most problematically, these marks can remain as lasting reminders even after you lose the weight.

Muscle Growth

This is one of the primary causes of stretch marks on the arms and shoulders. While you bulk up and add visible muscle mass, it can extend out the skin in ways that leave those pesky marks. This can be a downside to an overly intense strength training program.

Pregnancy

It’s one of the most common factors for women. As a baby grows in your belly, the skin in the area stretches beyond its normal means. There is nothing unusual or unnatural about this result but it’s an unfortunate side effect.

Genetics

Due to their hereditary wiring, some people are simply more prone to developing stretch marks. If it runs in the family, it can vastly exceed your odds. In these cases, stretch marks can prevent even without significant weight or muscle gain, but rather as part of the natural growing process.

Health Conditions

Cushing’s syndrome is one example of a condition that can lead to stretch marks. Individuals with this affliction have higher levels of cortisol in their blood, which can cause particularly striking and prominent (wider and darker) version of the issue. Taking medications with cortisol can also contribute.

Getting Rid of Stretch Marks

For the most part, there isn’t any solid method for getting rid of stretch marks completely. Often, they do naturally fade into a state where they’re almost invisible. But if you want to further reduce their appearance, here are a few ideas: spa treatments, microdermabrasion, cosmetics, and nourishing skin oils. In extreme cases you could consider a procedure with lasers or other invasive corrective measures, but you’ll definitely want to consult a physician before doing so.

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