Stretch Marks in Pregnancy: Causes and Cures

Chances are you already know about stretch marks (also known as striae). Even if you're fortunate enough not to have them, you may have heard claims about some skin care products that are supposed to remove them.

Striae are fine, wavy lines that appear on the breasts, stomach, hips and thighs. If you want to take a minute to see if you have them, go ahead and do so. I'll be waiting here for you.

It's not just pregnant women who can have these blemishes. Teenagers may get them during growth spurts, overweight people and those who use steroids can also get them.

It's not clear what causes this skin condition. Many women have striae during their first pregnancy. Some women don't have them during their first pregnancy, but go on to have the jagged lines in later pregnancies. And some pregnant women never experience this at all. Go figure!

Those who say it's all down to genetics may just be right. Other theories say that the wriggly lines appear whenever skin is stretched or when there are hormonal changes.

Striae gravidarum are the most widely known type of stretch mark. They usually affect young women and cause a lot of emotional distress, but they are not seen as a health risk. So it's really a cosmetic problem more than anything else.

There are a gazillion products out there claiming to remove these wavy lines and many women fall for the manufacturers' hype. I know I have, but not any more. Some women try painful treatments like laser surgery. But if you have a low pain threshold like I do, you won't take that option.

Sadly, there is still so much we don't know about this skin condition. We don't yet know how or whether they can be prevented, and there certainly isn't a definitive cure for the condition.

Sorry if this sounds bleak, but maybe it will make someone think twice before buying the latest snake oil, or having a painful procedure to remove stretch marks. But hey, there's always hope. Maybe someday, there will be a cure.

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