Nutrition

Are Stretch Marks Genetic?

Yes, Stretch marks are genetic. While several reasons impact the appearance of stretch marks, research and recent studies have found that genetic link has also a big role to play in that. The genetic design also affects the hormones in our body, which is also detrimental to the appearance of stretch marks.

In natural circumstances, if your mother or a close one has stretch marks, you are most likely to have them too. But why? Before getting into the deeper explanations and their causes and remedies, let’s get to the basics of stretch marks.

1. What are Stretch Marks?

Free A Person Holding her Leg Stock Photo
By Karolina Grabowska/Pexels/Copyright 2021

Stretch marks, known as “striae distesae” medically, refer to a type of scar or mark on multiple parts of the body, when our body shrinks or gains weight, in a short duration period.

Not all stretch marks look alike. They vary from person to person, and the causes they have been subjected to. They are commonly found to be:

Long irregular scar marks on the skin. These marks can be pink, purple or blue. Some of these scars can become lighter over time. They may appear on the hips, breasts, thighs, or buttocks, and can be covering large areas of the body.

Even though stretch marks are not particularly harmful for the body, they may give rise to unnecessary insecurities, and make one more self-conscious. These may turn serious and give rise to serious self-image issues.

2. What are the Causes of Stretch Marks?

Generally, stretch marks occur when the skin is stretched beyond its it’s usual capacity which can damage the underlying collagen and the elastin fibers.

The elastin fibers are responsible for ensuring that skin retains its elasticity and texture. As a result, of too much stretching, the fibers can tear or break, leading to the break out of stretch marks.

Some other causes of stretch marks are as follows:

2.1 Puberty:

Stretch marks may appear for adolescents when they are in their transition phase and are in the rapid growth spectrum. This particularly happens when a person goes through puberty, as there are a lot of changes happening in their body.

2.2 Pregnancy:

stretch marks during pregnancy
By Jen Canty/Unsplash/Copyright 2020

Pregnancy is also one of the most common reasons for stretch marks. In pregnancy, as the baby develops inside the abdomen of the mother, the abdomen enlarges to accommodate it. This causes a stretch in the skin and the muscles of the abdomen, hips and breasts.

2.3 Genetics:

As unbelievable as it sounds, genetic variants also play a big role in stretch marks. Some of us are at a higher risk of developing stretch marks due to our genes, and because some of our close relatives have them.

2.4 Hormones

Changes in the hormonal balance of certain hormones can cause stretch marks as well. This is because hormones play a big role in skin elasticity. Lifestyle changes and even changes in medicine intake can lead to hormonal changes and can develop stretch marks.

2.5 Weight Gain

person standing on white digital bathroom scale
By i yunmai/Unsplash/Copyright 2018

Weight gain or weight loss can also lead to stretch marks. In many cases, people lose or gain weight abruptly and rapidly, these are major conditions for getting stretch marks.

2.6 Health Issues:

Many medical conditions also lead to stretch marks. These conditions hold the capacity to make the connective tissue of the skin weak, which leads to the skin getting stretched, and hence developing stretch marks.

Above mentioned are the most common reasons for developing stretch marks.

3. How are Stretch Marks Genetic?

Stretch marks can develop due to many reasons, including lifestyle changes, and one’s environment, however, stretch marks developing due to genetic variants is also not unheard of. Research suggests that genetic variants can heavily influence the development of stretch marks.

There is because, the formation of our skin, and its texture heavily depend on the genes that are responsible for the production and arrangement of fibres such as collagen, and elastin in the dermal layer.

Studies that deal with genetic science have pointed out that certain genetic variations are at risk of developing stretch marks. These are the same genes that are responsible for many processes such as collagen synthesis and repair of tissues.

In some cases, an individual’s genes have certain variants that impact collagen production and in turn, make their skin less elastic and more susceptible to developing stretch marks. This becomes more risky when the body or skin is exposed to tasks that require immense stretching.

In addition, family history plays a significant role in determining one’s susceptibility to developing stretch marks. If one’s parents, or close family has a history of stretch marks and developing them, they are most likely to have inherited the genetic structure of the weaker skin, and this puts them at a risk to develop stretch marks.

3.1 Hormones Play an Important Role in Developing Stretch Marks, Even in the Case of Genes

As aforementioned, hormones in general are an important cause of stretch marks. Hormonal regulation plays an essential role in determining the elasticity of the skin.

Genetic links can influence how an individual’s body reacts to hormonal changes. In many cases, people’s genetic differences affect their hormone receptors, which makes their skin more or less reactive to hormonal differences. Consequently, the severity of their stretch marks depends on the time and extent of hormonal imbalances.

3.2 How to Get Rid Of Stretch Marks When it is Caused Due to Genetic Factors?

Stretch marks can cause serious image issues, and make oneself conscious and body conscious. When it’s caused due to genetic factors, it is extremely important to comprehend and acknowledge how much role genes play in case of stretch marks. It is important to consider that stretch marks are natural and common and that one cannot control their genetic framework.

However, on our part, we can make sure that we maintain a healthy lifestyle so that our genetics and hormones are not impacted in any way. This may minimize the appearance of stretch marks to a great extent.

3.3 Other Ways to Prevent Stretch Marks

It is not entirely possible to avoid or get rid of stretch marks, but there are several ways in which one can ensure that their appearance is as minimal as possible.

3.3.1 Keeping Your Skin Hydrated

person holding dropper
By Enacta Cannabis extracts/Unsplash/Copyright 2019

Hydration and water are solutions to a lot of problems, and the same is the case with stretch marks. Keeping the body moisturized and hydrated will make the elasticity of the skin better. Therefore, drinking a lot of water and applying moisturizers in areas where stretch marks are prone, is significant to tackle the stretch mark problem.

3.3.2 Having a Healthy Diet:

bowl of vegetable salads
By Anna Pelzer/Unsplash/Copyright 2017

A healthy diet will help maintain a healthy weight, and keep the hormones in check. A diet consisting of vitamins, minerals, and proteins will give the skin the required replenishment, and ensure that it remains healthy.

3.3.3 Exercise and Yoga:

Exercising and yoga are important components for retaining one’s health and this is true even in the case of skin health. Physical activity is important for healthy skin, at the same time yoga is also beneficial for regulating one’s hormones, and keeping them in check.

Exercise and yoga are also beneficial in increasing one’s confidence about their body, and help them develop a positive outlook in life.

3.3.4 Treatment Options:

Are Stretch Marks Genetic
By Silviarita/Pixabay/Copyright 2018

There are several creams with cocoa butter, ointments, and essential oils, such as olive oil, coconut oil, and almond oil, available in the market that help with stretch marks. The efficiency of this treatment may or may not be reliable, however, it can help in lightening the scar marks and making the skin healthier.

In this case, one must make sure to go for products that contain hyaluronic acid, retinol, and Vitamin E. They are essential for maintaining healthy skin.

3.4 What Other Treatment Options Are Available?

There are many technological and scientific ways of treatment available too:

3.4.1 Laser Therapy:

Laser treatments are always a rescue for stretch marks and many other skin-related issues. This treatment helps the marks fade and make them as good as invisible.

3.4.2 Microdermabrasion:

A procedure that exfoliates the skin helps to improve the texture of the skin and helps with the appearance of stretch marks.

3.4.3 Chemical Masks or Peel-Offs:

A lot of masks and chemical peel-offs can be used for stretch marks. The essence in them helps to rejuvenate the skin, clean the dead cells, and encourage the production of collagen. This will help in reducing the appearance of stretch marks.

3.4.4 Microneedling

This treatment option uses needles to create tiny pores in the skin, which will aid in the production of collagen, and lighten the appearance of stretch marks.

4. Are Stretch Marks Safe?

Stretch marks are in general safe. They are not known to pose any such danger or harm to the body. They are a natural occurrence, and extremely common.

Stretch marks are generally harmless and do not require medical attention. They are not followed by pain, itching or any type of discomfort. However in some cases, one might feel all this, but it may be triggered due to a medical condition, or allergies.

Rather than a physical concern. stretch marks are more of an appearance-related concern. They are long scars over the skin in areas that are prone to develop. They may be of different colours ranging from pink, red, or purple, even though they fade and lighter over the years.

5. Emotional Impact of Stretch Marks:

Are Stretch Marks Genetic
By Matt Flores/Unsplash/Copyright 2019

Stretch marks are common and almost every one of us has them, however, some people may be sensitive and develop serious mental health concerns. Some of them are:

5.1 Self-Consciousness:

Stretch marks may cause a lot of people to feel self-conscious, especially when the scars are in visible areas like the thighs, calves, abdomen, etc. This may lead to them avoiding wearing clothes that may expose these parts. For example, sleeveless shirts, shorts etc.

5.2 Insecurities about Body Image:

For many, the presence of stretch marks can make them insecure about their body, leading them to feel dissatisfied with their looks and physical appearance. These issues can also lead to strife in relationships.

Furthermore, low self-esteem is another situation that an individual may have to face as a result of stretch marks. They start lacking confidence and think about the stretch marks as a significant factor to judge them on.

5.3 Depression:

Are Stretch Marks Genetic
By Nik/Unsplash/Copyright 2018

Body and self-image issues are serious triggers of mental health concerns. An individual’s entire focus is on their body flaws can make them feel unworthy and less confident. This fills them with pessimism, therefore triggering their mental health and their general perspective on life.

6. How to Cope with the Emotional Impact that Stretch Marks Cause?

  • First and foremost, educating oneself about stretch marks, and how they are not under anyone’s control can be a big stepping stone towards coping with it. Stretch marks are triggered due to a lot of factors and one can only arrange methods to prevent stretch marks, but cannot control them.
  • Secondly, talking to people and gaining perspective can also be helpful.
  • Thirdly, self-care is important, and that will help regain the lost confidence.
  • Lastly, choosing the treatment that can be appropriate considering one’s skin type is also important.

7. Conclusion:

Stretch marks are very common, and can occur due to a variety of reasons, including genes. Our genetic variation has the power to influence stretch marks and their appearance. However, genes are not the only deciding factor. Genetic factors also influence the hormonal balance of the body, hence acting as a deciding factor for stretch marks.

There are other factors like hormones, rapid weight gain, pregnancy, unhealthy food habits, medical conditions, and lifestyle changes. Pregnancy stretch marks are the most common.

In the case of pregnancy, the skin rapidly stretches to accommodate the growing fetus, and the stretch marks start to appear. Although there are no fixed ways to avoid stretch marks, one can try several remedies to prevent stretch marks. These include oils, and serums with cocoa butter, that not only help the skin stay soft but lighten the appearance of the stretch marks too.

There are no ways to avoid stretch marks, however, multiple treatment options are available to lessen the prominence of it on the skin.

Jyotirupa is a fitness enthusiast, and enjoys sharing her knowledge of fitness through content writing. An avid reader, of books and health magazines, she aims to encourage people to focus on their health, and make them realise the significance of the…

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