Causes of the Stretch Mark
Stretch marks are caused by the stretching of the skin that causes the dermis to tear, the layer below the epidermis. This tearing allows the layer below the dermis to fill in and cause stretch marks.
This usually happens when you gain weight in a short period of time, and your skin has to compensate for rapid growth. Such weight gain can be attributed to pregnancy, puberty or certain medical conditions.
At first, new stretch marks are pink, red, or purple. Fresh stretch marks are also more prone to itchyness. They can turn white as stretch marks heal. Most stretch marks run vertically along your body, although they can sometimes be horizontal.
The healing of skin tends to be itchy. With dermal tearing, your nerves react by creating itchy sensations. This is also why your stretch marks may be itching after you’ve lost weight.
Pregnancy and stretch marks
Pregnancy may cause rapid weight gain in some women , particularly in the hip, thigh, and abdominal areas. Some women are more prone to stretch marks in these areas and may have itching as they heal.
It is also possible that itchyness is more than just pregnancy-related stretch marks. Some pregnant women develop rash called pruritic urticaria papules and pregnancy plaques(PUPPP).
Non-pregnancy and stretch marks
Itchy stretch marks are also linked to other causes. While anyone who experiences weight fluctuations may get stretch marks, you are more likely to get them if you:
- Have a history of stretch marks in the family
- Experience rapid muscle growth while exercising weight
- Have a history of rapid weight gain or loss of weight
- Undergoing puberty
- Have a history of systemic or topical corticosteroid use, such as the regular use of topical hydrocortisone on your skin, as it may stretch out the skin and make it thinner.
Certain medical conditions that are not related to pregnancy may also lead to stretch marks. These include the following:
- To be overweight or obese
- Frequent hormonal fluctuations
- Cushing syndrome
- Marfan’s syndrome
- Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
As stretch marks develop and heal with any of the above causes and risk factors, you may experience itchyness on-site. And look out for dry skin, as it can make your stretch marks itchy.
Relief of itch
The key to controlling itchy stretch marks is to treat the underlying itchyness. Try not to scratch, because it makes you more prone to infections and cuts. Instead, try the home remedies to stop the itch.
Butter of Cocoa
This is a home treatment that is particularly soothing to your skin during pregnancy. The thick, ultra-moisturizing cream helps keep your skin hydrated while also reducing itchyness.
Moisturizers and other topical
Itchiness caused by the PUPPP may be of benefit from a moisturizer as well as topical corticosteroids or antihistamines.
However, be sure that you do not use corticosteroids longer than recommended, as this may cause thinning of the skin over time and increase the risk of future stretch marks.
Coconut Oil and Vitamin E
Coconut oil and vitamin E capsules and creams may also help to relieve itchyness. Other plant-based oils, such as almond and olive oils, may also reduce itching in your stretch marks. If your skin is on the oily side, try jojoba oil instead — this may help to reduce the amount of oil in your skin.
Use it early and often
No matter which home remedy you try, it is important to use it as early and as often as possible for the best results. It may also take a few days — even weeks — for any stretch marks home remedy to work..
Massaging the product in your skin may make it more effective. Keep up with your treatment until all signs and symptoms of itchy stretch marks have improved.
There are also professional-grade treatments, usually performed by a dermatologist, to reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Some options include laser therapy, microdermabrasion, and chemical peels. You may consider seeing a dermatologist for further information on these options.
You can help prevent itchyness by properly moisturizing your stretch marks and the surrounding skin. Drinking plenty of water every day can also keep your skin hydrated and reduce itchyness.
While it’s almost impossible to prevent weight fluctuations over a lifetime, you can help make sure you ‘re in control of some of the causes of rapid weight gain, such as steroid use or sedentary lifestyle.
Keeping up with your annual health tests will also give your doctor the opportunity to diagnose possible underlying causes of rapid weight gain that may be controlled with prompt treatment.
Just as most stretch marks fade to a less noticeable appearance over time, you’re also likely to see a gradual decline in itchyness. However, if your stretch marks continue to have severe itching despite home treatments, you may want to see your doctor for an evaluation.You should also call your doctor if your stretch marks are accompanied by a rash.