The teenage years can be troublesome in so many ways–the fluctuating hormones, mood swings, and the many physiological changes in the body. Stretch marks or striae is one such prominent change that you will notice as you enter the teens.
According to the Journal of Pediatrics1, a clinical study showed that children between the ages of 10 and 16 tend to develop colored striae–red or purple in color that fade into a mesh of white slivers. The general observation is that growing girls and obese children are more prone to developing stretch marks than boys as they enter puberty. For girls, stretch marks start appearing as they develop breasts, and hips take form. In boys, it is mostly seen on shoulders and back.2
How Do Stretch Marks Occur?
Simply put, stretch marks happen when your body grows faster than your skin can, and your skin’s normal elasticity gets affected. The collagen–the protein structure under the skin–starts to break as you experience a sudden spurt of growth. The regular collagen production process is unable to keep up with the body’s natural growth rate, so the elastic fibers under the skin get stretched, and you develop thin scars on the epidermis or the top layer of your skin.3
Other than weight gain and other physiological changes in the body, conditions like Cushing’s syndrome (where body overproduces cortisol) and Marfan syndrome (a condition where the skin loses its natural elasticity) can result in stretch marks. Research shows that your genes play a big role in its severity on the skin. So if your mother had them, it is most likely you will have them, too.4
How Do They Look And Feel?
Stretch marks can appear red, purple or brown depending on your natural skin color. These usually fade into silver, white or pale beige stripes on your skin once the growth spurt has stopped, and your skin structure has stabilized. You are most likely to get stretch marks on your breasts, thighs, buttocks as you grow in height and size. For some, especially those putting on weight, the marks can appear on the underside of the arms and calves.
For girls with less elastic skin, the streaks can appear in the wider section of the areas like buttocks or abdomen. These also take a longer time to fade. Other than natural development in muscles, excessive bodybuilding or weightlifting can lead to boys developing stretch marks, mostly on their shoulders, buttocks, and arms.5
As your skin starts to stretch, and the scars get formed, you feel them as dents on your skin as you run your fingers over them. If you have a lighter complexion, you are most likely to develop pinkish stretch marks. Darker-skinned girls tend to get scars that are lighter than their skin tone – beige or white colored.
As your body stabilizes once you cross your teens, the colored streaks and dents are meant to fade and smooth out eventually.6
Can You Erase Stretch Marks?
Well, you cannot, really. They never go away but how they finally look depends on your skin structure, especially the level of collagen and fibrillin in your skin, genetic history, and the time when you had them. The ones acquired during the teenage years do become barely noticeable and almost fade away since your skin’s natural regeneration process during the growing years is good. However, if the skin gets stretched due to obesity or pregnancy, they may be tougher to deal with. You may end up with indented streaks or deep lines on the skin. 7
Extensive research by doctors of dermatology has shown that there is no definitive treatment that can completely remove stretch marks. Yes, there are medical procedures like laser therapy that can lighten the streaks and smoothen the skin.8
While weight loss or diet has proven to be ineffective, one way of dealing with striae is to treat it when it is getting formed, before the scarring is complete. Topical application of tretinoin at this stage is found to be effective and the improvement may persist for almost a year after discontinuation of therapy. Other topical treatments include a combination of glycolic acid and tretinoin and glycolic acid and L-ascorbic acid, both found to be effective.9
Natural Ways To Treat Stretch Marks In Teenagers
Other than the treatments backed by research, there are a few natural butter and creams that can be applied to the affected skin that have shown moderate result in people who have tried them. Some dermatologists also recommend these remedies since they have no side effects.
Here are some ways you can avoid or erase stretch marks:
Shea Butter, Almond Oil Duo
As your skin starts to stretch, the areas can feel itchy, and dry. Avoid scratching. One of the best ways to deal with this is to keep your skin moisturized. It is a good idea to use an emollient rich cream with shea butter or almond oil on your body post bath. This works by holding to the skin’s natural moisture and improving elasticity. It is a known fact that both shea butter.10 and almond oil11 are rich in antioxidants and vitamin E, which are proven to be very important for maintaining good skin health.
Egg White Treatment
Some skin care experts also suggest applying a thick layer of beaten egg white on the areas that have stretchmarks. The protein in the egg white is supposed to tone the skin and improve the skin’s texture which in turn diminishes the dents in the skin caused by stretch marks. This is effective when the stretch marks are active and are getting formed. This reduces the impact of stretching on the skin.
Lemon And Sugar Exfoliation
Regular exfoliation – twice a week at least – with a scrub made from coarsely powdered sugar and lemon juice has shown to diminish the appearance of stretch marks. This is good for using on mature stretch marks, the ones that have ended up as thin silvery lines. Sugar gently sloughs off the dead layer of skin, and lemon juice has a bleaching effect, which fades the marks.
Stretch marks are not really painful or harmful other than the impact it has on your body image. If you are conscious about eating healthy and maintaining good hydration levels of your skin, you can avoid getting them, and even if you do, they can fade into barely visible lines that can be hidden nicely with some sensible styling, and clever body makeup.
|↑1, ↑7||Sisson, Warren R. “Colored striae in adolescent children.” The Journal of pediatrics 45, no. 5 (1954): 520-530.|
|↑2, ↑4||Stretch Marks, NHS.|
|↑3||Salter, Sharon A., and Alexa B. Kimball. “Striae gravidarum.” Clinics in dermatology 24, no. 2 (2006): 97-100.|
|↑5||Hsu, Huei-Song, Walter Chen, Shu-Chin Chen, and Fu-Der Ko. “Colored striae in obese children and adolescents.” Zhonghua Minguo xiao er ke yi xue hui za zhi [Journal]. Zhonghua Minguo xiao er ke yi xue hui 37, no. 5 (1995): 349-352.|
|↑6, ↑9||Singh, Gurcharan, and Lekshmi P. Kumar. “Striae distensae.” Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology 71, no. 5 (2005): 370.|
|↑8||McDANIEL, DAVID H., Keith Ash, and Mark Zukowski. “Treatment of stretch marks with the 585‐nm flashlamp‐pumped pulsed dye laser.” Dermatologic surgery 22, no. 4 (1996): 332-337.|
|↑11||Ahmad, Zeeshan. “The uses and properties of almond oil.” Complementary therapies in clinical practice 16, no. 1 (2010): 10-12.|