Encyclopedia of Family Health - Vol. 15

By David B. Jacoby; Robert M. Youngson | Go to book overview

Stretch marks

Questions and Answers

I developed stretch marks when I
was a teenager. My daughter Is
now 12 and putting on weight.
Are stretch marks hereditary or
can anything be done to stop her
from getting them?

The fact that you got stretch
marks during puberty does not
mean that your daughter will. The
best thing you can do is to make
sure that she eats sensibly. Stretch
marks are unavoidable if she
develops fast, but excess weight is
often the main cause of stretch
marks during adolescence.

I am three months pregnant, and
don’t have any stretch marks. I’ve
heard of a special liniment that
prevents stretch marks. Is this
worth trying?

It is very unlikely indeed that any
cream or liniment can prevent
stretch marks. Oil or cream
rubbed into the skin of your
breasts and abdomen can help
with any dry or flaky skin, but it
won’t stop the stretch marks.

I am expecting a baby, and my
doctor told me I should watch my
weight. What should the normal
weight gain be?

The average weight gain during
pregnancy should be about 22 lb.
(10 kg). Anything much over this
will increase the risk of stretch
marks. Ignore people who tell you
to eat as much as you can. Ask
your doctor or the prenatal clinic
about the correct diet.

My husband has put on weight
and seems to have stretch marks
around his hips. Is this normal?

Men can get stretch marks if they
put on weight rapidly, just as
women can. This is not
dangerous, but your husband
should lose the excess weight,
since it is bad for his health.

Anyone can develop stretch marks, and many women frequently do in pregnancy. There is some doubt, however, that skin stretching is the principal cause of these permanent marks, and that they can be prevented.

Human skin is naturally elastic, and can normally stretch considerably to accommodate a sudden change in weight or in the shape of the mass that it covers. The tissue beneath the skin surface develops as we grow so that the skin area above it gradually Increases. If very rapid physical expansion takes place, the elastic tissue may be put under intolerable strain. It is not certain, however, that stretch marks are simply just a matter of skin stretching. They are certainly common in pregancy but much less common in obesity. Some experts believe that they probably result from the increased levels of free Cortisol present in pregnancy.

The medical term “stria” means a “stripe” and does not Imply a causal factor such as stretching. Striae are a feature of many medical conditions, especially Cushing’s syndrome in which abnormal quantities of adrenal Cortisol are produced. Striae may also occur in people, especially women, who are given large doses of steroids for medical purposes. Striae are a feature of Marfan’s syndrome, the nephrotic syndrome, and the disease lichen planus.

The redness of a stretch mark fades in a matter of months, but the skin surface never returns to its previous condition. A papery kind of scar tissue will remain, and the stretch marks will look like pale or silvery threadlike lines (see Scars).


When stretch marks occur

Stretch marks can occur during puberty (see Adolescence; Puberty). As the hormonal balance changes, teenage girls may quickly put on weight in specific areas. The sites most likely to be affected are the breasts, hips, thighs, and buttocks. Stretch marks may be more likely to occur in girls who are already slightly overweight, although they can affect girls who have developed large breasts at a particularly fast rate during puberty.

Stretch marks on the hack of a teenage boy who had been overweight. Stretch marks
(shiny streaks that appear on the skin) most commonly appear in adolescent girls and
in women during pregnancy, but can occur as the result of any sudden weight gain
.

-2105-

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Encyclopedia of Family Health - Vol. 15
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Spastic Colon 2022
  • Specimens 2024
  • Speculum 2027
  • Speech 2028
  • Speech Therapy 2032
  • Sperm 2034
  • Sphygmomanometer 2036
  • Spina Bifida 2037
  • Spinal Cord 2040
  • Spleen 2044
  • Splinters 2047
  • Splints 2048
  • Sports Injury 2050
  • Sports Medicine 2052
  • Sprains 2056
  • Stammering and Stuttering 2058
  • Staphylococcus 2062
  • Starch 2063
  • Stem Cell 2065
  • Stenosis 2067
  • Sterilization 2068
  • Steroids 2072
  • Stethoscope 2074
  • Stiffness 2076
  • Stillbirth 2080
  • Stimultants 2083
  • Stitch 2086
  • Stomach 2088
  • Stomach Pump 2091
  • Strangulation 2094
  • Streptococcus 2097
  • Stress 2098
  • Stress Management 2103
  • Stretch Marks 2105
  • Sty 2112
  • Subconscious 2114
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome 2116
  • Suffocation 2118
  • Sugars 2120
  • Suicide 2122
  • Sunburn 2126
  • Sunstroke 2130
  • Suppositories 2132
  • Surgery 2134
  • Surrogacy 2141
  • Sutures 2144
  • Swellings 2145
  • Symptoms 2149
  • Syphilis 2153
  • Syringing 2156
  • Index 2158
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