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Body Positivity

Love Your Stretch Marks

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stretch marks
If your skin is blemish free, then you’re one of the lucky ones. Stretch marks are one of the most common forms of skin blemish, affecting men and women from teens, and around 8 in every 10 pregnant women.

Stretch Marks

Those streak-shaped blemishes are, of course, the stretch marks are, of course, that occur on skin. Many of us are already familiar with them, and for others they are yet to come. Fears that stretch marks are bad for you are completely unfounded. Most people go to lengths in order to cover them over, but things are starting to change. There’s a whole body positive movement around where top models are actually showing off their stretch marks. More about that in a moment.

They appear when the skin is stretched out and causes a type of scarring that generally shows up on the belly, the thighs, upper arms and breasts. Anyone can have these scars, however they tend to appear on women more than men.

This particular form of scarring is not dangerous. In fact it is so common as to be considered normal. However, the extent and location of stretch marks can be unsightly and embarrassing. Therefore,  the only real problem is that they lead to anxiety and issues with self-image related to cosmetic concerns.

The first sign that stretch marks are about to appear is thin and pink skin that may be itchy as well. Once the skin has stopped stretching, the scarred tissue becomes less pronounced and turns into bright pink or dark streaks across the skin. The discolouration does fade over time, but it can take many years. 

Why & When They Occur

Stretch marks are caused by over-extending the skin as the body grows. The human body’s natural growth cycles means that a person is likely to develop stretch marks at multiple points in life however there are some situations which will increase your chances. These situations include: 

  • Puberty which is when a person experiences rapid growth.
  • Pregnancy which causes up to 90% of all mothers to develop stretch marks over their expanding bellies.
  • Misuse or prolonged use of corticosteroid creams which cause the skin to lose collagen which is a protein that keeps skin strong.
  • Rare medical conditions such as Cushing’s syndrome which causes the body to go through fasts cycles of weight gain and weight loss, and Marfan syndrome which reduces the elasticity of a person’s skin.
  • Putting on a lot of weight in a short period of time.    

The skin is made up of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis. The scars appear in the middle layer, the dermis, when it is pushed beyond its elastic limit. This section then tears and allows deeper sections of the skin to show through. The farther past the elastic limit the dermis is pushed, the larger and more prominent the stretch marks will be.     

The body is designed to handle a changing size in skin however rapid changes cause stretch marks because the body can’t keep up. Stretching is a form of applied stress therefore stretch marks generally coincide with high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which damages the elasticity of skin even farther.     

Preventing Stretch Marks     

The best ways to prevent stretch marks from forming are by maintaining a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables which provide quality nutrients for the skin. Try to maintain a steady weight rather than yo-yoing. Drinking plenty of water to help the skin maintain its elasticity.  None of these measure can guarantee a complete lack of stretch marks, but they may reduce the risk. If you stick to this list of preventative methods then you are less likely to get stretch marks however if you do, they will be smaller and harder to notice. 

Treating Stretch Marks     

Stretch marks do not cause any harm to your health, so the focus of treatment is always cosmetic in nature.  

Gels, lotions and in some cases cosmetic surgery are the preferred treatment options for stretch marks, however they experience mixed results, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. If you are opting to get treatment for stretch marks then your doctor will make a recommendation for the best course of treatment based on the severity of your stretch marks and your skin type. No one method has been developed that works well for all cases. Cocoa butter cream is said to help soften scars.

Many creams, particularly collagen cream, and some ointments claim to help with stretch marks however there is no strong evidence to support this claim. Many people still use them anyway and some do say they see and feel a difference. In the case of pregnancy, stretch marks tend to fade over time although many mother’s still use bio oil which they feel aids the process. Some mothers claim that they see big improvements up to twelve months after they have given birth. Jen Reviews also provide 15 home remedies for stretch marks.

No Hiding

What’s great about many current ad campaigns is their refusal to airbrush the stretch marks off their models. Yes, models have stretch marks too. ASOS, for example, recently put down the spray and revealed their models ‘as is’. Check out this article from The Independent for more info on how the body positive movement is starting to shake things up.

See also:

Dare to be body positive
How not to waste your life
Switch to a positive lifestyle

 
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11 Comments

  • Rodel

    Thank you for the valuable info. I’m a man and I was just wondering why I got stretch marks along my knees seeing as I’m very thin in body build. I’ll just try some of the treatment methods mentioned here and hopefully come up with positive results.

    July 10, 2018 at 7:51 pm
  • David Mureithi

    It’s important to stay positive. Actually stretch marks are usual and there is no need of shying away.

    July 10, 2018 at 9:39 pm
  • Arianne June

    Stretch marks are normal but to those who happened doesn’t have one, those who are blemish free they are the lucky one, and I am lucky myself. Those who are having stretch marks and really bothers them, there ways to treat it and to those who are not having yet there are ways to avoid it also by following some tips of advice. But then, we must know when and why they occur!

    July 10, 2018 at 9:42 pm
  • Feddy

    Definitely there’s no need hiding one’s stretch mark or being ashamed of it.it’s better to own it and love it or better still get treatment for and live life without worries.Having a stretch shouldn’t be a life sentence.

    July 10, 2018 at 11:14 pm
  • Reign

    Stretch marks are definitely very normal especially to women. There are far more important things to think and do rather than think about how to get rid of your stretch marks. Noone’s perfect. Just embrace all your body flaws and never compare your body to others.

    July 11, 2018 at 2:12 am
  • Scott Summers

    We all get stretch marks in some form or the other but by definition it is prominent in women. I better let my wife see this ha ha.

    July 11, 2018 at 2:49 am
  • Akira Trinidad

    Didn’t know that there are other causes of stretch marks other than pregnancy! Nice article! And yes, we should not be ashamed for this is a natural phenonemon of our bodies which we are in control of. No to body shaming!

    July 11, 2018 at 4:22 am
  • benny

    This is a very helpful post for those having difficulties with stretch marks it can be very frustrating, the first thing is loving one’s skin then working on one’s diet to get enough nutrients for the skin to avoid having stretch marks.

    July 11, 2018 at 4:28 am
  • Clark Chapman

    I’m very insecure about my stretch marks. It’s great to be reminded that they’re natural and we shouldn’t be ashamed of our bodies

    July 11, 2018 at 6:06 am
  • Emma

    Many people associate stretch marks with overweight, but even skinny people can have stretch marks. I know because I am one of them, and I exercise and eat healthy, but after my pregnancy it has just been an uphill battle to get rid of, but I don’t let it control me. It’s not that serious.

    July 11, 2018 at 8:10 pm
  • Glad

    I am a slim person and had starch markso on my bump, which I wasn’t really worried about. The ones that got me a little worried was the stretch marks I had after pregnancy, they wereven much and very visible. I am working on them though so I am less bothered about it.

    July 12, 2018 at 6:53 am
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