Often when we think of stretch marks, we think of pregnancy and the obvious rapid change in size of our belly. However stretch marks are not only due to pregnancy and can happen in both men and women alike.
What causes them?
Stretch marks are often seen as bands of parallel lines along the skin, ranging from purple to light pink or grey. They are created both through the need for the skin to stretch and an increased level of cortisone being produced by your adrenal glands.
Though they are very common with pregnant woman, they can also occur in anyone who has experienced a sudden change in size, such as teenages experiancing a growth spurt, body builders who experience rapid gains or people who lose lots of weight quickly. They are more obvious in people with lighter skin and you are more likely to get them if your parent/s also have had them.
The good news is that although some people might find them slightly itchy or uncomfortable at times, they are harmless!
How to reduce them?
Often stretch marks will start to fade over time, however there are some ways in which you can reduce them.
Some strong pharmaceutical creams are used to help reduce them during the early stages, however they are not recommended for pregnant woman. Pulsed dye laser therapy and fractional photothermolysis work by encouraging the growth of collagen and elastic, yet they can be painful and can cause skin discolouration. Microdermabrasion is used to lightly remove the top layer and is useful for reducing the appearance of older stretch marks. Other lasers work to stimulate melanin in order to blend the marks in with the surrounding skin colour. Applying tanning lotion can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks by evening the skin colour.
For a more natural approach try rosehip oil which is a natural source of vitamin E. Vitamin E is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that helps the body deal with scar tissue which is similar to stretch marks. Many people claim that egg whites, lemon juice or even potato juice help, however there is no evidence to support these claims.
The truth is that for some people, stretch marks are just part of life. As I mentioned they often fade with time, yet often stretch marks represent big changes in our lives. Often it is a positive change and this is a beautiful thing!