Stretch marks are medically known as Striae distensae. Although they may not be physically painful, stretch marks can hurt your confidence and self esteem.
Local names for stretch marks in Nigeria
- Aami isanwo (Yoruba)
- gbanye/gbatia akara (Igbo)
- mikewa da alãmarsu (Hausa)
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What are stretch marks
Every skin is elastic, which means they are capable of expanding when stretched.
However, when your skin is stretched beyond its elastic limit, the collagen/elastin that hold your three skin layers together may break and cause a tear known as stretch mark.
Signs of stretch marks
- Thin, narrow stripes on your skin
- Discolouration of that skin area (stretch marks may be red, white, purple, pink, or brown, depending on your normal skin colour)
- Skin feels slightly raised or depressed when you run your finger over the stretch mark
- Early stretch marks can be itchy
Where stretch marks happen
Causes of stretch marks
Stretch marks happen when the collagen/elastin in your skin breaks, and below are the factors that can contribute to the breakage of these elastic fibres of your skin.
- Growth spurts in puberty
- Breast or butt implant
- Hormonal changes
- Rapid weight loss or gain
- Rapid muscle gains from workouts
- Use of steroid (found in some creams and medications)
- Medical conditions like Cushing’s disease & Marfan syndrome
Effective treatments for stretch marks (available in Nigeria)
Once stretch marks happen, they cannot un-happen. However, you can make them look less noticeable like they never happened.
There are 3 powerful treatments for stretch marks, and they all work by fading your stretch marks to blend with your normal skin colour and become less noticeable.
Stretch marks can fade out on their own with time, but these treatments will make them less noticeable more quickly.
Laser or light therapy
Recommended by the American Society for Dermatological Surgery (ASDS), laser therapy is among the newest ways to improve the appearance of your stretch marks.
Laser therapy is carried out by a professional skin or plastic surgeon who will use pulsed dye lasers to stimulate the increase in collagen and elastin production in your body.
Only a few Nigerian hospitals are equipped for laser therapy, and due to the cost of equipment, the price of laser treatment for stretch marks in Nigeria can be a little over your budget.
You will also need more than one appointment to start seeing improvements on the appearance of your stretch marks.
Tretinoin (Retin-A) works by penetrating your skin upon application and rebuilding your collagen/elastin to make your stretch marks look more like your normal skin again.
It is very effective in improving the appearance of your stretch marks in a few weeks, although tretinoin may irritate your skin.
Do not use tretinoin (Retin-A) cream if you are pregnant or still breastfeeding because it can harm your baby.
Tretinoin is marketed under the popular brand name of Retin-A, and the treatment is strongest when applied on new or early stretch marks.
Hyaluronic acid is a gel-like substance naturally present in your body. It plays a key role in tissue regeneration, and for this reason, hyaluronic acid remains the main ingredient in many anti-ageing products.
When applied on your stretch marks, hyaluronic acid penetrates and gets involved in the repair of your skin tissues that were damaged from the collagen breakage.
It is another effective treatment for stretch marks in Nigeria, and because it is a natural substance in your body, hyaluronic acid is very safe to use even for pregnant women and nursing mothers.
Although stretch marks pose no health risk to you, their appearance can be disfiguring and uncomfortable to have or look at.
If you intend on seeking treatments for your stretch marks, it is best to start the treatments early, at least within 1-month after your stretch marks first appeared.
Also, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) confirmed that for a faster and more effective result when treating your stretch marks with any of these gels or creams, be sure to:
- Use the product on early or new stretch marks
- Massage the product gently into your stretch marks
- Apply the product every day to see results
Last updated: December 2019
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