As a teen, there is already so much you have to deal with. Your body is visibly changing and one of the things that can come with growth are stretch marks. Mostly seen on the abdomen, hips, thighs, legs, and chest - this stretchy skin is a natural process that your body goes through. They do not cause any harm or pain to your body, however dry skin types can sometimes suffer from itchiness in the area of the marks. It is completely normal to have stretch marks in teenagers and they do not have to be a burden or cause of shame in any shape or form.
Having said that, if you wish to deal with them in an effective way, there are safe ways of doing it. We spoke to our in-house skin expert, Dr. Sravya, who helped us understand them better and gave us tips on managing them better, starting with what actually causes them in the first place...
- Causes of stretch marks
- What are stretch marks
- Expert recommended tips for preventing stretch marks
- Treatment options available for dealing with stretch marks
- Home remedies for stretch marks
- New treatment options available for dealing with stretch marks
- FAQs about stretch marks in teenagers
Causes of stretch marks
As seen above, there can be a number of reasons behind developing stretch marks. When it comes to teenagers, some of the major reasons are sudden growth spurts and genetics. Here's everything you need to know about to manage them better...
What are stretch marks
In medical terms, stretch marks are called striae distensae or striae gravidarum. They look like tipped streaks on your skin. They can be in different colours - most common is silver, but can also be any hue between red and purple. The most common areas that patients complain about are the stomach, hips, buttocks, thighs and breast region as well. Some people are genetically more susceptible to them, meaning if your parents, grandparents, or any other blood relative has had them, you are at a higher risk of getting them.
Expert recommended tips for preventing stretch marks
Even if you are at an increased risk of getting stretch marks, there are steps you can take to reduce those odds. Here are some tips to prevent them in the first place-
Have good control over your weight:
This is the most useful tip to avoid stretch marks or worsening an already existing condition. Stretch marks occur when your skin is very quickly pulled apart because of rapid weight gain. Factors involve normal obesity, growth sports, working out, and bodybuilding. So, working to control body changes and maintaining a healthy weight despite these factors is your best bet.
Eat a nutrient-rich diet:
Consume a wholesome diet which is rich in vitamin C, D, E, zinc and protein. Choose unprocessed foods, eat a lot of fruits and vegetables - what is basically called a rainbow diet.
Optimise your water intake:
Drink enough water and stay hydrated, this keeps the skin very supple. Moisturised and hydrated skin does not develop stretch marks as much as dry skin does. Avoid drinking too much caffeine or caffeine-rich beverages and balance out your fluid intake with green tea, caffeine-free drinks and mainly water.
Supplement with vitamins:
Collagen is the main component that keeps your skin strong and elastic, thus stretch mark, fine lines and wrinkles are prevented. The development of collagen is boosted by vitamin C, so supplementing your diet with citrus fruits will be a huge help. Also, make sure you get your vitamin D, from adequate sunlight and dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cereal in your daily food.
Treatment options available for dealing with stretch marks
Stretch marks naturally fade with time, if you leave them alone, but if you can’t wait and want to improve their appearance with cosmetic procedures, there are ways to do that -
1. Tretinoin cream:
These topical treatments work by restoring collagen and improving your skin's elasticity. They work best on fresh stretch marks which are red or pink in colour.
2. Laser treatments:
There are two types of laser treatments that can help with stretch marks. Firstly, a pulsed dye laser encourages collagen and elastin synthesis and can be used on newer stretch marks very effectively. But make sure to consult with your dermatologist as very dark-skinned individuals can suffer some side effects from it. Secondly, fractional photothermolysis, which is similar to pulsed dye laser, targets smaller areas and thereby causes less skin damage and pigmentation in Indian or brown skin tones.
This procedure involves polishing the skin with a tip that reveals or extrudes tiny crystals to exfoliate the superficial layer and reveals new skin underneath, that is more elastic. This can improve the appearance of older stretch marks.
Home remedies for stretch marks
While there are home remedies available for dealing with stretch marks, do not expect drastic changes from them. Getting rid of stretch marks is very difficult and sometimes there is some kind of residual scarring that rarely fades enough to be completely invisible. However, there are some home remedies that can minimise their appearance and help them fade more quickly.
1. Vitamin A:
You can either take this orally or ask your dermatologist for a topical extract, to improve the look of the marks.
2. DIY microdermabrasion:
A homemade sugar scrub can be used to somewhat mimic the exfoliating effects of a dermaroller used by a doctor at a clinic. You can make this by mixing sugar with one cup of olive oil or coconut oil. Add some lemon juice and scrub the parts of the body with the stretch marks, gently. Repeat several times a week when you’re taking a bath and massage it on for 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Aloe vera:
Even though aloe does not help fade stretch marks, it can help with calming the bright, fresh, itchy and irritating marks. You can also use virgin coconut oil to hydrate and moisturise itchy stretch marks and thus, reduce eventual scarring caused by constant scratching of the affected area.
4. Hyaluronic acid:
A collagen is a form of protein in your skin that helps it maintain its shape. Their content can be boosted by applying hyaluronic acid or taking collagen supplements in combination with antioxidants to improve the results.
New treatment options available for dealing with stretch marks
One of the newest and latest treatments is called needling. It injects collagen directly underneath the top layer of the skin into the stretch mark and is very effective. Make sure to consult a dermatologist to figure out whether this procedure will work for you. Another approach includes injecting certain liquids under the stretch marks which make the collagen production much faster and effective. This has a filling action and minimises the marks to a considerable size so that it is not visible.
Having said that, there are many products and procedures that claim to fade stretch marks, but can have vastly different results. The best thing to do is to make sure your skin is hydrated well moisturised to relieve the itchy feeling and minimise the colour difference between your normal skin and stretched-out skin.
FAQs about stretch marks in teenagers
Q. Are there any foods that help with keeping stretch marks in check in teenagers?
A. Apart from consuming vitamins and staying hydrated, there is evidence that zinc and stretch marks are related. It is an ingredient that plays a huge role in the process of wound healing; so nuts, fish and other zinc-rich foods should be part of your diet.
Q. Why should you see a dermatologist while dealing with stretch marks?
A. Sometimes, despite all the precautions you may still develop stretch marks. This is when you can take yourself to a dermatologist so that their appearance is not as distinctive and noticeable. An expert will help you understand the reasons behind it and help deal with it effectively. Some genetic disorders like Cushing syndrome or Marfan syndrome can also be the hidden reason behind them.
Q. Are there any clinical treatments that fade stretch marks?
A. As mentioned above, clinical treatments can only help fade stretch marks and not erase them completely. However, some procedures, like the excimer laser, can stimulate melanin production so that the stretch marks get camouflaged with the surrounding skin tone and hence are visibly evened out, but not actually erased.