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We often attribute the presence of stretch marks to an exclusively female, child bearing or childrearing group. We could not have been more wrong. Stretch marks, or in medical parlance, striae marks are often present too in younger children. Some parents would probably raise their eyes when we say that stretch marks are actually a normal occurrence in children.

To understand this, we must first go into the very anatomy of the human skin, and see its gradual changes when the body expands to accommodate more mass. The skin is composed mainly of two layers: the dermis or dermal layer, and the epidermis or epidermal layer. Now in between these two layers lies a middle layer, where all the "action" is present. The middle layer, a cellular thin layer of fibroblasts and growth giving collagen, is what changes during expansion.

Basically, when the middle layer of the human skin is stretch, it repairs itself quickly, whether or not the site of the damage is hidden or not. Take note that the skin has a fixed tightness and dimension. It can accommodate massive changes in girth and dimension, but the accommodation and expansion changes the middle layer.

Since the human skin is not really that opaque, the gaps in the middle layer of the skin show. This is what people hate the most the natural color of the under layer of the topmost layer of the human skin.

Growing Pain?

Yes, stretch marks are really part of "growing pains". If we can all believe that growth spurts are a natural occurrence in the human body, then necessarily, we must understand that you don't have to be pregnant to get stretch marks. You just have to grow really quickly, without giving the skin enough time to readjust itself without stretching the very limit of the regenerative layer of the skin.

Believe it or not, stretch marks are not really "curses" that people have to deal with because they are overweight or because they simply became pregnant and had to grow bigger for a short time period. If you want to point a finger at someone, don't point it at yourself. Instead, point the accusing figure at your own parents.

Genetics and Stretch Marks

Interestingly enough, genetics plays a crucial role in the manifestation of stretch marks on the surface of the human skin. Take the hypothetical case of Mr X. Mr X was born of Mr A and Mrs B, two genetically unrelated individuals. Unfortunately for Mr X, his mother, Mrs B, has stretch marks, and had parents who either had stretch marks, or at least we genetically predisposed to. Mrs. B doesn't have stretch marks anymore, of course, in her more advanced age.

Unfortunately for Mr. X, he is just hitting his twenties, and he has been gaining a lot of weight the past few months. From a light diet that consisted mostly of fish and whole wheat bread, Mr. X has been enamored by sugary food, high cholesterol meats and excessive amounts of soft drinks and carbohydrates. Gradually, Mr. X gains a lot of weight.

The weight gain, which the body of Mr. X has not been accustomed to for more than two decades, is now here. Without warning and without giving the skin the chance to properly expand, stretch marks will then develop.

Author : Wong Darren