What Causes Stretch Marks?
Understand the Cause of Stretch Marks - Find the Cure!
Wondering what causes stretch marks
? This article provides insight into the process leading to the formation of stretch marks on your skin.
Technically termed as “striae”, stretch marks can be broadly described as pink, red, or purple colored streaks or elongated lines that appear on the skin, particularly on the inner and outer thighs, abdomen, shoulders, under-arms, breasts, hips and buttocks. However, the question is what are reasons and determinants for why they appear.
Stretch marks primarily appear when the middle-layer of the skin (the dermis), extends rapidly beyond its extent of elasticity, thereby resulting in minute bleeding of the capillaries and local inflammation.
As the dermis extends, it causes the extension of epidermis or the outer-layer of the skin, and this is what causes strech marks to appear as translucent reddish or purple colored scars. Such a phenomenon normally occurs when a person becomes obese, builds muscles or during pregnancy, puberty and body building.
Collagen and Elastin - Keys to Preventing and Avoiding Stretch Marks
One needs to know the exact composition of the skin to understand what causes traditional striae scarring formation. Skin is the outer-layer of the body, made up of protein fibers called collagen (80%) and elastin (4%), which forms an intricate mesh or network like structure.
While collagen provides the stability or rigidity to the mesh structure, elastin allows the skin to remain flexible, resilient, and elastic. Damage to the elastin fibers inside the skin is what causes stretch marks to develop. The most remarkable aspect about stretch marks is that skin does not have the ability to repair damaged elastin fibers. This reason is what causes stretch marks to fade off eventually. However, we cannot erase them completely.
Other Factors and Causes
When considering what causes stretch marks to develop, many people consider widening of the tissue to be the primary reason. However, the fact is that a change in the body’s hormones (particularly glucocorticoids) is what causes stretch marks.
The most prominent among these glucocorticoids is cortisol, a corticosteroid hormone, released by the adrenal gland in response to stress and anxiety. In conditions of stress such as adolescence, late stages of pregnancy, or weight lifting, body tends to secrete excess amounts of cortisol, which prevents the fibroblasts inside the skin from forming epidermis and dermis. Stretching of the skin is just a consequence of these hormonal changes.
Elevated amounts of cortisol is what causes stretch marks formation, particularly in and around body parts containing excess fat deposits, because cortisol results in excess weight gain and increased fat storage inside the adipose tissues.
Stretch marks may even appear in certain medical conditions such as Cushing’s disease and Cushing’s syndrome, where the adrenal gland secretes abnormally high amounts of cortisol into the blood stream. In addition, certain additional factors such as – genetic composition of the individual, inappropriate lifestyle, inadequate nutrition, excess consumption of caffeine, smoking and impact of pollution is what causes stretch marks to develop.
Prevent and Removal
Chemical reactions, hormones and stress on collagen are key causes of scarring developing. The best steps to prevent and accelerate removal are to maintain healthy elastin production and to improve viability of collagen development.
Replenishing cells with moisture, and treating with a stretch mark cream can help prevent, cure and remove striations, discoloration and residual scar tissue.