It isn’t just pregnant women who develop stretch marks on their skin. Though stretch marks are commonly associated with pregnancy, stretch marks in teens are more common than you think. With the rapid growth and weight gain that occur during the teenage years, stretch marks are common in teenage girls and boys alike (1). Adjusting to the new body changes and fitting in socially is already a challenge for many teens. And stretch marks can be a cause of insecurity among many.
How They Look
They are linear streaks that appear on overstretched skin. They appear as flat red lines in the beginning and gradually fade to white streaks. They generally appear on the buttocks, thighs, chest, tummy, and near the armpits (2). How they look can vary from person to person. It can depend on the duration a person had them, their skin type, color, and the location of the stretch marks. It can be black, blue, red, pink, or purple in color (3).
Why They Appear
Stretch marks are normally painless and rarely pose any threat to individuals (4). The medical term for stretch marks is known as striae distensae. If a person is on some kind of medications, it can occur as a side effect to that medication. They occur when the skin stretches too much. So growth spurts during teenage years and rapid weight gain can cause the skin to become overstretched. When the deeper layer of skin, dermis becomes stretched, the elastic fibers in them undergo changes which result in the appearance of linear stripes on the skin.
Other than weight gain, overuse of steroids can also cause stretch marks (5). Another reason is Cushing’s disease, which is when the adrenal gland produces excess glucocorticoids. Rare genetic conditions such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Marfan syndrome can also cause stretch marks on the skin.
How To Treat Them
There are several home remedies that claim to treat stretch marks:
Cocoa butter, vitamin E, almond oil, and olive oil are generally used as home remedies to treat stretch marks, but there are no studies that prove their effectiveness (6). Using products that contain hyaluronic acid or Centella (a herb) may prevent stretch marks (7).
There are several stretch-mark lotions available for you to treat those stretch marks. Some products might offer some help in treating them while others don’t help at all. Here are some tips that you can follow that might be helpful (8):
- Using the lotion on newly formed stretch marks seems to be more effective than on mature marks.
- Rather than just applying it on your skin, massage the product deeply into your skin.
- Use the product religiously. You may not see any results if you use it for a few days and then stop. Apply the product every day if you are looking for better results.
There are other options that a dermatologist can prescribe for treating stretch marks (9):
- Retinoid creams help in rebuilding the skin’s collagen. They can improve stretch marks.
- Light and laser treatments also help in stimulating the production of elastin or collagen of the skin.
- Microdermabrasion is another method which refines the skin’s layer by blowing crystals into the skin using a hand-held device.
- Your dermatologist may also use other treatments like chemical peels, radiofrequency or ultrasound to reduce the appearance of stretch marks (10). Your doctor may even use a combination of methods for better results.
Stretch marks are a cause of concern for teenagers as it affects their body image. It’s because teens evaluate their self worth by how they look. So it’s likely for them to lose their confidence if they have stretch marks or get teased for it at school. Tell them how it’s common among teenagers and teach them to be confident in their skin. They can also visit a dermatologist if they wish to seek treatment for it. But find a certified dermatologist who is experienced in treating stretch marks so that they don’t end up with scars or other side effects.