It's estimated that approximately 80% of people will develop stretch marks at some point in their lives. There are several reasons people develop these small, lines in their skin that once appear, and they never disappear completely.
The inability to banish stretch marks completely is due to the fact that they are actually miniscule tears in the tissue that lies just under the skin. They often start out as reddish brown, dark brown or even pink, depending on a person's natural skin tone. When the color fades away, whitish lines remain in their place.
So what exactly causes stretch marks? One reason stretch marks develop is due to genetics. Skin is elastic and has the amazing ability to stretch as needed for movement—or weight gain. Genes play an important role in how easily skin stretches and then retracts as needed. So if your mom or grandmother has stretch marks, regardless of your sex, you are likely to have them yourself.
Weight gain and loss are both responsible for the development of stretch marks. Gaining or losing weight quickly makes it even more likely that a person will develop stretch marks. So if you're planning on going on that crash diet guaranteed to help you lose 50 pounds a month, you may want to think again.
Poor nutrition is also a leading cause of stretch marks. As the old saying goes, you are what you eat. And usually your skin is one of the first parts of the body where the effects of bad eating habits will show. A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can help prevent stretch marks. Vitamins A, C and E are also important to healthy, elastic skin—and the great thing is your skin will have a great healthy glow.
Pregnant women are especially susceptible to developing stretch marks. This is because the skin is required to stretch significantly and generally quite quickly. Keeping total weight gain in the 25-30 pound range can help prevent more serious stretch marks from developing. Again, diet and vitamins are also vitally important, not just to prevent stretch marks but to optimum health of both mother and baby. There are also many creams available that claim to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. While many experts believe these claims are false, the added moisture from these products can help skin's overall elasticity and reduce the number and severity of stretch marks.
And finally, age is a chief factor when it comes to stretch marks. Over time, the body slows its production of collagen, which is essential to supple, elastic skin. The decrease makes it more likely that stretch marks will develop. Estrogen levels in women also decrease and this means that women are even more apt to develop stretch marks as they age.
So are you destined to have stretch marks? Probably. The good news is that with a proper diet and a good skin moisturizing routine you can greatly decrease their number and severity. And if you're fortunate to have been born with good genes, you have less to worry about than the average person. Still, taking care of your skin, inside and out, is important for everyone in order to slow and prevent the development of stretch marks.