Stretch marks may appear on the skin when it is suddenly stretched. They occur in the dermis (middle layer of skin), which supports the epidermis (outer surface of the skin). People often ask the question – why do we get stretch marks? Here are some of the main reasons:
- Growth Spurts
The dermis consists of strong fibers that link to one another. As your body grows, these fibers allow your skin to stretch. But, if a certain area of the body grows rather quickly within a short time period, the fibers can get thinner and overstretched resulting in breaking down.
The skin develops tiny tears and shows the blood vessels just under the skin where the fibers have broken in the dermis. This is precisely why stretch marks appear reddish in color when they first materialize. The blood vessels will actually contract leaving only the fat visible under your skin. In time, the stretch marks will fade to a gray or silvery white color.
Luckily, not everyone develops stretch marks. One possibility could be that some people are more prone to getting them due to the fact their bodies generate more of the hormone, cortisol, than others. Cortisol significantly decreases the collagen levels in your skin, which is the protein that gives your skin elasticity in the skin fibers.
There are many other factors that can cause stretch marks or increase the chances of someone developing them.
- Fast Weight Gain
Someone who gains a substantial amount of weight within a short period of time may suddenly discover they have stretch marks. Unfortunately, even if all the weight is lost the marks may still remain.
- Yo-Yo Dieting
If you regularly diet and your weight is constantly going up and down, these marks may appear.
Pregnant women have a much higher chance of developing stretch marks. Hormones produced in the body while a woman is pregnant Contribute to making the ligaments in the pelvis more pliable so when the time comes to deliver the baby they will stretch more. However, these same hormones also work to soften skin fibers, which can increase the chance.
As the baby continues to grow in the womb, the pregnant mother may notice stretch marks developing on her abdomen as the skin is progressively stretched more and more. Also, a pregnant woman's breast and thighs get heavier and bigger. Therefore, they may develop on these body parts as well.
Younger people have a tendency to grow fast during puberty, some more than others. Growth spurts are common during puberty.
During puberty, males frequently develop marks on their backs and / or shoulders, while females are sooner to getting them on their breasts, thighs, and hips.
- Cushing's Syndrome
Cushing's syndrome happens when the body makes too much cortisol, the same hormone that makes certain people more likely to develop these marks than others.
Cushing's syndrome produces various symptoms due to the excess cortisol the body produces including:
– significant back pain
– excess facial and body hair
– weight gain
Cushing's syndrome may produce very prominent marks that are very noticeable and darker in color.
People who use corticosteroid medications such as lotions, creams or tablets for eczema may find that they develop these marks more easily.
Corticosteroids work much the same way as cortisol, which is naturally produced in the body. Corticosteroid medicines can alleviate the inflammation that skin conditions cause, but they can additionally diminish the levels of collagen in the skin as well.