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- Stretch mark facts
- What are stretch marks?
- What causes stretch marks?
- What are risk factors for stretch marks?
- What are symptoms and signs of stretch marks?
- How are stretch marks diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for stretch marks?
- Are there any home remedies for stretch marks?
- What is the prognosis of stretch marks?
- Can stretch marks be prevented?
Stretch mark facts
What are stretch marks?
Stretch marks appear as linear streaks on the skin that has been overstretched, and they run perpendicular to maximum lines of tension in the skin. They begin as flat red lines, and over time they appear as slightly depressed white streaks. They tend to occur near the armpits, on the thighs, abdomen, chest, and groin. Their appearance is similar to changes seen in the surface of rubber balloons that have been overinflated.
What causes stretch marks?
There is some controversy over the precise mechanism by which striae occur. There seems to be damage to the elastic fibers of the dermis (the deeper layer of the skin) accompanied by inflammation which eventually results in scar-like changes. These changes appear to be induced by excessive physical stretching of the skin. There are a number of clinical situations which will predispose the skin to the formation of striae. These include rapid and excessive increase in body mass, the excessive use of topical or systemic glucocorticoid drugs (steroids), Cushing's disease (overproduction of glucocorticoids by the adrenal gland), puberty, Marfan's syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (two uncommon genetic diseases), excessively large breast implants, and pregnancy.
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What are risk factors for stretch marks?
Excessive rapid weight gain and pregnancy are the two most common risk factors. Other risk factors include the conditions described above that predispose the skin to developing stretch marks.
What are symptoms and signs of stretch marks?
Striae are rarely painful or itchy. They do not produce troublesome symptoms. They begin as linear red streaks and eventually mature into linear white lines.
How are stretch marks diagnosed?
Since stretch marks are quite common, most people are familiar with their appearance. They are identifiable on visual inspection by patients and doctors.
What is the treatment for stretch marks?
There are a wide variety of treatments, but none of them seem to be particularly valuable in preventing or treating this condition. It is generally agreed that there is no good medical evidence that any creams or ointments will produce any sustained improvement in the appearance of stretch marks. The use of physical modalities such as lasers and ultrasound holds some promise, but time will tell if these treatments are effective.
Are there any home remedies for stretch marks?
No, there is no evidence that any home remedies can improve the appearance of stretch marks.
What is the prognosis of stretch marks?
As the striae mature, they become less apparent but they rarely disappear. They do not cause any health problems.
Can stretch marks be prevented?
Aside from maintaining a normal weight, there is little that can be done to prevent stretch marks from developing.
Elsaie, Mohamed, L., Leslie S. Baumann, and Lotfy T. Elsaaiee. "Striae Distensae (Stretch Marks) and Different Modalities of Therapy: An Update." Dermatol Surg 35 (2009): 563-573.
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Disease Prevention in MenDisease prevention in men includes routine screening tests that are part of basic prevention medicine. Take an active role in your own health care and discuss screening tests with your doctor early in life. Age of screening and timing of screening depends upon the condition being assessed. Diseases men should take steps to prevent include
- high blood pressure (hypertension),
- type II diabetes mellitus,
- HIV (human immunodeficiency virus),
- colon cancer and colon polyps,
- prostate cancer,
- melanoma and other skin cancer, and
- bladder cancer.
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Heart Disease (Coronary Artery Disease)
Heart disease (coronary artery disease) occurs when plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, the vessels that supply blood to the heart. Heart disease can lead to heart attack. Risk factors for heart disease include:
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- Family history
Angina, shortness of breath, and sweating are just a few symptoms that may indicate a heart attack. Treatment of heart disease involves control of heart disease risk factors through lifestyle changes, medications, and/or stenting or bypass surgery. Heart disease can be prevented by controlling heart disease risk factors.
Lichen SclerosusLichen sclerosus is a skin disease that causes white spots to form on the skin, which later grow into large, thin, and crinkled patches of skin that tear easily. Symptoms include itching, pain, blisters, and bleeding. Patches on the upper body usually go away over time, but patches in the genital region may scar if left untreated, causing problems with urination or sex. Treatment may involve surgery or the use of a very strong cortisone cream.
Marfan syndrome is hereditary (genetic) condition affecting connective tissue. A person with Marfan syndrome may exhibit the following symptoms and characteristics:
- Dislocation of one or both lenses of the eye
- A protruding or indented breastbone
- Flat feet
- Aortic dilatation
- Dural ectasia (a problem with the sac surrounding the spinal cord)
- Stretch marks
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Though there is no cure for Marfan syndrome, there are treatments that can minimize and sometimes prevent some complications.
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Signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary by stage (trimester). The earliest pregnancy symptom is typically a missed period, but others include
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Second trimester symptoms include
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- possible stretch marks.
Third trimester symptoms are
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- swelling of the ankles,
- fingers, and face,
- breast tenderness, and
- trouble sleeping.
Eating a healthy diet, getting a moderate amount of exercise, also are recommended for a healthy pregnancy. Information about the week by week growth of your baby in the womb are provided.
Pregnancy can bring challenges like
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- problems sleeping, and
- wondering if it is safe to have sex while pregnant.
Learn how to manage and move through these challenges during pregnancy.
Pregnancy Planning (Preparing for Pregnancy)
Pregnancy planning is an important step in preparation for starting or expanding a family. Planning for a pregnancy includes:
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- Eating healthy for you and your baby
- Disease prevention (for both parents and baby) to prevent birth defects and infections
- Avoiding certain medications that may be harmful to your baby
- How much weight gain is healthy
- Exercise safety and pregnancy
- Travel during pregnancy
PubertyThe time when boys and girls begin the process of sexual maturation is called puberty. During this time, both sexes undergo a series of biological changes that include a rapid increase in height, bone growth, weight increase, the growth of pubic hair, breast development and the onset of menstruation in girls, and testicle, penis, and muscle enlargement in boys.
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