Every culture has its gods. And, as you probably remember from learning about ancient Greece in school, where there are gods, there are myths. In our culture one of our many gods is Beauty, and one of the ways we pay her homage is by attempting to make ourselves in her image. To this end, the internet is flooded by health and beauty advice, some of which, unfortunately, is based more on wishful thinking than on scientific evidence.
Stretch marks are a very common skin concern, affecting about 80 percent of us. Although they are not harmful, many people consider them to be unsightly and wish to prevent or get rid of them. As with with many things, googling the topic opens a Pandora’s box of misconceptions surrounding stretch marks.
Some of these myths border on just plain silly; one website listed “stretch marks are contagious” as a common myth. Ok…that’s not one I’ve ever heard but good thing it’s not true! Also, apparently statements such as “stretch marks cannot be prevented” and “there is no way to get rid of stretch marks” are simultaneously mythical and factual, depending on who you ask. Thankfully, however, there are some myths about stretch marks it seems we can agree are actual misconceptions.
Myth #1: Only women get stretch marks
This myth was probably born from the association between stretch marks and pregnancy. Although it is true that about 90 percent of pregnant women will get stretch marks, stretch marks don’t discriminate between the sexes. Of course, stretch marks in men are not the result of pregnancy! Some causes of stretch marks in men include rapid growth and changing hormones during puberty, weight gain associated with athletic training or obesity, and certain medical conditions and medications.
Myth #2: Skinny people don’t get stretch marks
If only! Unfortunately, skinny people can get stretch marks just as easily as those who are overweight. Regardless of their weight everyone goes through puberty, which is when many people acquire stretch marks. This is due not only to your body’s rapid growth but also to hormonal changes that occur during this time. Also, not all “skinny” people started out that way, and since stretch marks are scars they typically persist on your body even after you lose weight.
Myth #3: “Skin stretching” is the only cause of stretch marks
Stretch marks can be caused by many things, some of which include the following: pregnancy, puberty, hormones, sudden growth, poor diet and lack of vitamins, depression and stress, and certain drugs (hormone therapies, steroids, and cortisone cream are a few examples). Additionally, some medical conditions including Cushing’s disease and Ehlers-Danos syndrome can result in stretch marks. Keep in mind that a person can also be genetically predisposed to stretch marks…yay.
Myth #4: There is no way to treat stretch marks
False. Stretch marks are scars, which means that erasing them permanently and completely is difficult and there is not a magic cure. However, it also means there are many treatment options available that can reduce stretch marks or improve their appearance. Please refer to this blog post on the best stretch mark removal options for some ideas!
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so can stretch marks be prevented? Unfortunately, this seems unlikely. For example, if you inherited a genetic predisposition for stretch marks from your mother there is probably nothing you can do to prevent their appearance. Even so, everyone likes to try. Keeping yourself well-hydrated and ensuring your skin is moisturized may not help, but it also can’t hurt.
Regardless, when it comes to stretch marks just remember you are not alone—most of us have them, none of us is perfect, and that’s ok!
Written by: Margaret Durkovic