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What are Stria (Stretch Marks)? Who is most effected by this condition?

Sunday, April 11th 2010. | Health

Stretch Marks Most Likely to Appear During Puberty and Pregnancy. Stria, the dermatological term for stretch marks, is a scarring of the skin that develops when rapid growth or stretching occurs and the production of collagen which keeps the skin elastic is interrupted.

Quick spurts of growth that are common during puberty when many hormonal changes are taking place cause stretch marks to varying degrees in young girls and boys. Expectant mothers are also another group most likely to develop stretch marks as the fetus grows and distends the woman’s abdomen, with at least three out of four pregnant women experiencing stretch marks. For most girls and women, stretch marks are most likely to develop on the breasts, hips, thighs and buttocks. Bodybuilders are also more prone to developing stretch marks as their muscle tone rapidly develops, as are individuals who use creams and ointments on the skin containing steroids or who use oral steroids on a regular basis. Obese individuals are usually subject to stretch marks.

Stretch marks are first noticeable as red or purple lines that are slightly indented from the surface of the skin. They are most likely to develop over areas of the body that have the most fat deposits. These include the abdomen near the navel, the buttocks, the breasts, the upper arms, the hips, the thighs and under the arms.

Over a period of time, most stretch marks will turn lighter in color and eventually become much less noticeable if not seeming to disappear altogether. Some women will apply cocoa butter or other stretch mark skin creams to the areas likely to develop stretch marks as a preventative measure, but once a stretch mark has already developed, applying topical creams has little effect other than to keep the skin moisturized.

Fractional laser resurfacing is the latest dermatological treatment for reducing the appearance of stretch marks by promoting the production of more collagen in the skin’s dermis level. Microdermabrasion is another technique used by dermatologists to reduce the appearance of stretch marks.

Stretch marks are especially distressing for girls and women who live in hot climates or during the summer season when swimsuits and sleeveless shirts are more common. Some sufferers of stretch marks use a waterproof make-up to cover up their appearance. Sunless tanning lotions have also been found to be quite effective at helping to minimize the appearance of stretch marks on the body. Getting a tan the old fashioned way by exposure to sunlight, however, doesn’t have the same effect because the stretch marks themselves do not tan.

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