So many myths and old wives’ tales surround the topic of stretch marks. For those who are really looking for answers as to why they have developed stretch marks, below are some of the legitimate reasons why people get them.
It may be hard to believe but around 45% of teenagers going through puberty will develop stretch marks at some point. Whether male or female, the rapid changes in height and weight make most teenagers susceptible to the development of these marks. The stretching of the skin that comes with growth spurts disrupts the normal production of collagen, therefore making your skin less elastic and pliable.
If it’s hard enough to believe that almost half of the kids that go through puberty will get stretch marks this statistic will shock you even more!
Up to 95% of pregnant women will develop stretch marks especially during the last trimester of their pregnancy.
So if you have just given birth to a human being and are a little worried about the stretch marks you’ve developed, you can give yourself a break. You are clearly not alone on this.
Most women will develop stretch marks on their breasts, thigh, buttocks and abdomen. These are the parts most likely to expand as your body tries to accommodate the needs and space required to nourish another human being inside of you.
Besides the expansion of the body that is to be expected during pregnancy there are other reasons why most women will develop stretch marks during this time. During the third trimester, the last few months before you are expected to give birth, the body is given a signal to release hormones that affect a cascade of events in our body that influence your ligaments to soften. These hormones especially affect the ligaments found in your pubic area; the rationale for this is to make passage of your baby possible. In order for the baby to pass through your pubic bone structure should be flexible enough to allow passage of the baby. Unfortunately, these same hormones also hinder the production of collagen temporarily and make the skin unusually sensitive to stretching.
Excessive Exercise Or Body Building And Weight Loss/Gain
It’s been said before that exercising can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks. This is completely false. What regular exercise can do though is make you lean enough that you are not too prone to getting stretch marks (notice how most of your marks appear on the fattiest parts of your body?). However, it might be helpful to remember that over-training and losing too much weight in such a short period of time may also encourage the development of stretch marks.
In the case of body building, the rapid increase of body mass is akin to the growth spurt that happens during puberty. Any expansion of the body that happens to fast won’t give your skin enough time to adapt and that’s why sometimes the dermal layer will tear a little bit.
Note: It has been found that athletes or body builders that use and abuse steroids are far more likely to develop stretch marks.
Long Term Use Of Systemic Steroids
Systemic steroids are synthetic versions of the natural occurring cortisol that is produced by the adrenal glands of your body. They are referred to as system when they are taken orally or are administered through intramuscular injection. When they are inhaled they are referred to as inhaled steroids and topical steroids when they are applied directly onto the skin.
Although steroids are used in the medical field as a way to control or manage some diseases and conditions long term use, and even short term use, has some side effects. Among the side effects of long term steroid use, whether systemic or topical, is loss of skin integrity resulting in skin thinning and stretch marks. Here are some other side effects of long term steroid use:
- Easy bruising
- Slow healing of skin
- Increased risk of skin infection
- Loss of fat under skin
- Excessive hair or hair loss
- Steroid acne
Marfan Syndrome Or Cushing’s Syndrome
Although these conditions are quite rare, both Marfan Syndrom and Cushing’s Syndrome have symptoms that include development of a lot of stretch marks that are deeply hued.
In Cushing’s Syndrome, your body produces an unusual amount of cortisol. As mentioned above the increased levels of this stress hormone affects collagen production and strength.
Marfan Syndrome is caused by a faulty gene that affects the elasticity of your skin, ligaments and other connective tissues. This makes your skin less resistant to stretching.