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By: Mary Kate Smith

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Wednesday, 4-Jul-2012 13:07 Email | Share | | Bookmark

Stretch marks -- What Causes Them?

In order to prevent stretch marks, you must first learn what causes them

Stretch marks, also known as striae, are a very common skin condition. Over 70% of the teenage girls and almost all of the pregnant women develop stretch marks.

It is not yet fully understood what causes them, but there some factors that can be associated with the development of stretch marks.

Over-stretched skin

Some specialists believe that Stretch marks occur when the skin is excessively stretched and it loses its elasticity. In this situation, the organism increases collagen production in the affected area, determining the scars to appear in the middle skin layer, known as the dermis.

The skin can become over-stretched when the body gains weight too fast, for example in puberty or during pregnancy. Obese children are also prone to develop this skin condition, as well as weightlifters and athletes. The scars usually appear on the thighs, abdomen, hips and breast, but in some cases they can also occur on the arms and legs.


Another possible stretch marks cause is an increase in glucocorticoids (steroid hormones) levels. Adrenal glands produce more glucocorticoids during pregnancy and puberty. Obese people, body builders and people who suffer from Cushing's disease also have higher levels of glucocorticoids, which can inhibit collagen production.

Collagen is what gives the skin its elasticity, therefore, when your body can not produce enough of this protein, stretch marks have a very high chance to develop.


Another theory is that genetics might also be one of the stretch marks causes. The skin type that you inherit from your parents may be more prone to develop stretch marks than other skin types. A person that has dry skin has a higher risk of developing this condition, because dry skin lacks elasticity.


Certain medications and chemicals can inhibit collagen production, which can lead to Stretch marks. For example, hormone based treatments and corticosteroid medications can determine this skin condition to develop.


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