The Cortisone Connection: 14 Common Causes and Cures for Stretch Marks


Flawless skin is an envy for many people, while stretch marks are a curse. These tiny colored streaks may seem harmless, but for some people, they can be annoying and embarrassing. Unlike acne, sunspots and other skin problems, stretch marks take a long time to fade, while some are even permanent.

Do not let stretch marks ruin your self-confidence. Read on to know how you can make them go away and also how you can prevent more from appearing.

Prevention Smarts: How Stretch Marks Appear on Your Body

stretch marksStretch marks occur after your skin is pulled or stretched beyond its capacity. Elastic fibers lie just beneath your skin’s surface or the dermis, which allow your skin to stretch as your body grows. If a part of your body grows too fast, these fibers will overstretch to keep up with the rapid growth. Eventually, these fibers will thin, and some may break.

When these fibers break, it creates tears in the form of narrow streaks, which makes the inner layer of your skin visible. Blood vessels can also become visible, which gives stretch marks their reddish color during their early appearance. Over time, the blood vessels will retreat, leaving only the pale fat visible under your skin. This gives your stretch marks its shiny gray or white color.

Stretch marks can appear on many parts of the body including your:

  • Belly
  • Hips
  • Thighs
  • Buttocks
  • Upper Arms
  • Shoulders
  • Back

Remember, although stretch marks can appear anywhere on your body, they are the most common in these locations.

Stretch Marks: Debunking the Many Myths for You

stretch marks can occur in menDue to confusing advertisements, many people are still at a loss when it comes to stretch marks. Debunking these myths can help people who already have them, or may have them in the future to find effective ways to deal with their stretch marks.

Here are lies that are being told about stretch marks.

1. Stretch Marks Only Affect Women.

Most advertisements for stretch mark products show pregnant women, who led many people to think that it can only happen to pregnant moms with huge tummies. This is a lie. Stretch marks can occur in men and women, and can occur for many reasons.

2. Stretch Marks will Not Appear on Skinny People.

Weight gain is only one cause of stretch marks, among many other causes. Therefore, being skinny will not save you from other causes of stretch marks such as hormones, puberty and certain health conditions.

3. Stretch Marks Disappear When You Lose Weight.

As you gain weight, your skin stretches to accommodate the increase in your body size. Once stretch marks start appearing on your skin, they will not go away, even if you go back to your previous weight. Again, stretch marks are permanent.

4. Permanent Removal is Possible.

creamsTechnically, this is a lie. Stretch marks appear in the dermis, or the layer of the skin beneath the surface where your blood vessels and glands are found. To permanently remove stretch marks, you will have to remove the affected layer of the skin which is, of course, impossible. However, you can make stretch marks invisible by focusing treatments that improve the outer layer of the affected skin.

5. Creams Never Work on Stretch Marks.

Not all creams will improve your stretch marks, but there will be some stretch marks creams that can effectively improve the appearance of your skin. You just have to be patient because their effects do not take place overnight.

Genetics and More: Understanding the Many Causes Stretch Marks

Not everyone will get stretch marks, but experts say your genes play a role. If your parents have stretch marks, then you are likely to get them, too. Stretch marks can occur for many reasons, but the increase in body size seems to be the most common reason.

Here are body changes that can cause stretch marks:

1. Pregnancy

Almost 90 percent of pregnant women will get stretch marks in the sixth or seventh month of pregnancy.

During pregnancy, your body releases hormones to soften the ligaments that connect the bones in your pelvis, so it can open widely when delivering your baby. These hormones can also soften the elastic fibers in your skin, making them susceptible to breakage.

pregnancyAs your baby keeps growing inside, the skin on your stomach stretches more and more each day until some of the fibers finally break. Stretch marks can also appear on your thighs as you gain your pregnancy weight, and on your breasts as they enlarge for milk production.

What’s interesting about stretch marks and pregnancy is that, according to some preliminary research, intraperitoneal adhesions are significantly common in women with severe stretch marks who must undergo their second caesarean section. Intraperitoneal adhesions are complications that arise after abdominal surgery, as well.

2. The Yo-Yo Effect: Rapid Weight Gain and Loss

Your body expands as you gain weight and so does your skin. This rapid expansion can stretch your skin and cause stretch marks. They can remain even after you lose all of the weight you gained, but they will fade and become less obvious over time. Athletes and bodybuilders may also develop stretch marks due to an increase in muscle size.

3. Puberty

Growth in height normally speeds up during puberty due to the surging level of hormones. Boys tend to get stretch marks on their backs and shoulders while the girls get them on their breasts, hips, and thighs. About 70 percent of the girls get stretch marks during puberty while only 40 percent of the boys get them.

4. Corticosteroid Medications

Medications that contain corticosteroid used to treat eczema may cause stretch marks. Corticosteroids can effectively reduce inflammation caused by skin disorders, but it steals the collagen in your skin, making your skin less elastic and prone to stretch marks.

5. Cushing’s Syndrome

back painWhen you suffer from Cushing’s syndrome, your body produces excessive amounts of cortisol. Cortisol hormones work like corticosteroids; they take away the collagen in your skin. Too much cortisol in the body due to Cushing’s syndrome can cause symptoms such as:

– Weight Gain
– Back Pain
– Excessive Hair Growth

If you suffer from Cushing’s syndrome, your stretch marks may tend to be dark-colored and more noticeable.

6. Marfan Syndrome

Marfan syndrome is due to a gene defect that affects the connective tissues in your body including your skin. It reduces your skin’s elasticity; therefore, stretch marks can occur easily. If you suffer from Marfan syndrome, talk to your doctor about stretch marks.

7. Hydrocortisone

Cortisol is a hormone naturally released by the body during stressful situations as part of your fight or flight response. It is a steroid which means it has anti-inflammatory properties that help improve health conditions that cause inflammation.

Cortisol is available in its synthetic form called hydrocortisone, which is used to treat skin conditions, arthritis and many other health problems. You can ingest it orally, apply it topically or receive it through injections.

While hydrocortisone is effective in treating inflammation, it comes with side effects, which include thinning of your skin and the appearance of stretch marks. Another steroid hormone called cortisone which has similar molecular makeup as hydrocortisone, and it can also cause thinning of your skin by destroying the collagen in your skin.

In general, stretch marks pose no life threats. However, the disfigurement can give rise to confidence issues and anxiety. Stretch marks can leave someone in misery until it starts to affect their quality of life.

Unfortunately, there is no way you can prevent stretch marks from showing. Products that claim to do so are making false claims. Stretch marks may fade, but will not completely vanish, which also means products marketed as stretch mark erasers are telling lies.

Instead of forcing your stretch marks to disappear, you should aim at making them less obvious. According to a skin expert, the best time to treat stretch mark is when they are still reddish in color.

From home remedies to modern treatments, here are 14 ways to make your stubborn stretch marks fade.

14 Common Causes and Cures for Stretch Marks

1. Cooling Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe Vera has long been known as a natural remedy for varying skin problems. It has cooling and healing properties that can help improve the appearance of the skin on the affected area. Cut a few aloe vera leaves, then rub the open side on and around the skin with stretch marks. Wash the area with warm water.

You can also use aloe vera gel in combination with vitamin A and E oils. Apply the mixture of the three substances on your skin and leave it for at least 10 minutes for better absorption.

2. Alfalfa Amino Acids

Alfalfa leaves are rich in amino acids that help in the repair of tissues. It is also a good source of vitamin E and vitamin K that help improve skin tone. Instead of using the leaves, you can buy alfalfa powder and mix it with chamomile oil. Gradually add the oil until it forms a thick paste. Massage the mixture on your skin three times a day.

3. Sugar Exfoliation

sugarSugar makes a good exfoliant due to its coarse grains that act as tiny exfoliating beads. To use sugar on your stretch marks, add other skin lightening ingredients, such as lemon juice and almond oil.

To prepare the scrub, just follow these simple steps:

1. In a bowl, mix all three ingredients and make sure it is not too wet.
2. Gently rub on the skin with stretch marks for at least 10 minutes.
3. Rinse off with warm water.

This homemade scrub can help remove your old, dead skin cells and lighten your skin, making stretch marks less obvious.

4. Potato Juice Simplicity

Potato juice is packed with vitamins and minerals that aid in the growth and restoration of your skin cells, which may help improve your stretch marks. You don’t have to use juicers or a blender to acquire potato juice. Just cut one potato into four thick slices and rub the open side on your skin. Let it dry completely on your skin before rinsing it off.

5. Soothing Olive Oil

Olive oil is a great moisturizer that contains nutrients and antioxidants to nourish and soothe your skin. It helps make your skin smooth and supple, too. To use olive oil as a treatment for stretch marks, slightly warm it before massaging it into your skin. This helps improve blood circulation to enhance the appearance of stretch marks. It keeps the skin moisturized so no need to rinse it off.

6. Antibacterial and Anti-inflammatory Castor Oil

Castor oil is a popular remedy for many different skin problems, from acne to ringworm infections. Its effect on the skin relies on its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties using it for stretch marks is worth giving a try.

To use castor oil as remedy for your stretch marks, follow these easy steps:

1. Warm the oil with your palms and gently massage it into your skin in circles.
2. Wrap the area with a clean cloth.
3. Apply heat in the area for 30 minutes with a bottle containing hot water or with a heating pad.

Castor oil is also effective in reducing your skin pigmentations because of its fatty acids.

7. Fresh Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is known to contain lightening substances that help improve dark spots on the skin. This may help improve your stretch marks by making the skin on the area look bright and clean. Just slice a lemon in half then squeeze the juice and apply on your skin. Rinse off with warm water. You can also mix it with cucumber juice to aid in your healing process.

8. It’s No Yolk: Egg Whites

As an excellent source of protein, egg whites make an excellent remedy for skin problems. The protein contains amino acids that form into collagen and help repair your skin cells.

Applying egg whites on your skin can be messy, but you can easily use it for your stretch marks in these simple steps:

1. Separate the egg white from the yolk and whip it in a bowl.
2. Apply it on your skin with your fingertips.
3. Allow the egg whites to dry before rinsing it off with warm water.

Egg whites can dry your skin, so make sure to follow up with olive oil to keep your skin moisturized.

9. Rich Cocoa Butter

Cocoa butter is a great moisturizer that can keep your skin looking young with its antioxidants. Though there is no guarantee it can fade your stretch marks, many pregnant women have claimed it has worked on their stretch marks. To apply, just take a small scoop of cocoa butter and massage on your skin. Make it a daily ritual for two months until improvements become noticeable.

10. Tretinoin Cream to Shrink Your Stretch Marks

Retinoic acid found in tretinoin creams helps restore the skin’s collagen, which in turn improves its elasticity and suppleness. Tretinoin cream is widely used to treat acne and stretch marks. Results of various studies show that tretinoin can effectively decrease the size of stretch marks during the early appearance.

If you have sensitive skin, practice caution when using tretinoin creams, as they can cause irritation. You should also avoid using them if you are pregnant because they possibly cause congenital defects in your baby.

11. Camouflage: The Magic of Makeup

Even with the use of creams and other remedies, stretch marks take a long time to become less noticeable. This is why a lot of people resort to using body makeup that hides their stretch marks. Some companies also manufacture makeup specifically made for stretch marks. Some of them are waterproof and by choosing the tone that best matches your skin, you can mask your stretch marks and go on with life like they do not exist.

12. Microdermabrasion for Smoother Skin

smoother skinMicrodermabrasion is a simple method of removing dead skin cells from the outer layer of your skin. Therefore, it may not be effective in treating your stretch marks. It works by improving the texture to enhance the appearance of your skin in the affected area.

The procedure uses a device that release crystals on your skin to smoothen the surface. It has a tube that gently vacuums dead skin cells to encourage the growth of new healthy skin cells. Microdermabrasion is also used as a treatment for acne scars and hyperpigmentation.

Microdermabrasion provides temporary results, and the procedure needs to be repeated in two to three week intervals.

13. The Big Guns: Laser Stretch Mark Removal

Laser stretch mark removal has the highest satisfaction rate among all of the different stretch mark treatments. During the procedure, pulses of light eliminate the thin layer of skin that surround your stretch marks. One of the most effective laser type for this procedure is the excimer laser. It works by disrupting the molecular bonds in your skin tissue, which makes the tissue disintegrate by itself in a process called ablation. The damaged tissues will be replaced by new healthy ones.

Undergoing laser stretch mark removal is a costly procedure and may take time for you to recover from each session.
Another form of laser treatment for stretch mark is pulsed dye laser therapy. It works by stimulating the production of collagen and elastin on your skin, but will only work effectively on new stretch marks.

14. Your Healthy Lifestyle for Healthy Skin

waterDealing with stretch marks is not only skin deep. You also need to make sure you skin gets the nourishment it needs to encourage growth and restoration of cells and tissues. Creams and other stretch mark remedies you apply on your skin will be useless if you apply them to unhealthy skin.

To keep you skin nourished, make sure you drink enough water every day. Your diet should consist of foods high in a protein found in fish, red meats and eggs. It should also be rich in vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables.

How You Can Prevent Future Stretch Marks

Preventing stretch marks is as impossible as removing them permanently. But, you can prevent their appearance by preventing the causes from happening in the first place.

Growth in size is the main cause of stretch marks. As mentioned, it can occur during pregnancy, which is, of course, beyond your control. Stretch marks caused by health conditions are also unavoidable, but if you are not pregnant and free of Cushing’s or Marfan syndrome, you can prevent stretch marks by making sure you do not gain weight over a short time or lose it at the same rate. If you plan to gain or lose weight, do it gradually.

Your diet and lifestyle also play major roles in weight gain. Eat a healthy balanced diet and be physically active. You are not only saving yourself from stretch marks, but you are also protecting yourself from risks of other more serious health problems.

They say stretch marks are permanent. Yes, they are but with these 14 cures, you can say goodbye to your unsightly stretch marks forever – or at least fade them significantly.


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