About 40 per cent of teenage males and about 70 per cent of teenage females develop red and pink stretch marks. These are red and pink jagged lines that most commonly appear around the breasts and over the hips in girls and over the hips and on the thighs in boys.
The purple and red pigment in stretch marks is due to bleeding as the skin is stretched so hard that the blood vessels inside it burst. Because teens usually have vigorous circulation, blood continues to flow into the skin for weeks or months, keeping the stretch mark red, until the blood eventually turns green or yellow. Then the underlying tissue dies and the skin turns white.
In the most extreme cases, usually involving use of illicit steroids for bodybuilding, purple and red stretch marks can actually break open, but for the most part, stretch marks are a cosmetic problem. While it is true that most teenage stretch marks do fade away, there are plenty of things that can be done about them in the meantime. Here are five important tasks in keeping stretch marks under control:
1. Handle stress. Especially in teens who get belly stretch marks, damage to the skin is powered by the stress hormone cortisol. The less cortisol is released, the less stretching of the skin. Getting plenty of “beauty sleep” actually helps keep the skin healthy.
2. Avoid hot showers. Hot showers, especially long hot showers, dry out the skin. Dry skin does not stretch as well as moist skin, and is more prone to forming stretch marks.
3. Get vitamins on you as well as in you. Tiny amounts of vitamin A applied to the skin stimulate its growth. Vitamin C creams, when they are made with the “spreadable” form of vitamin C known as ascorbyl palmitate, help recharge the process by which skin cells make collagen. Products like Revitol provide absorbable vitamins in doses that are safe for growing skin.
4. Moisturize. Any lanolin-based formula will moisturize and loosen skin, although it’s a good idea to test just a small dot of the product on the back of your forearm to make sure you are not allergic to it before you apply it all over your body. Lanolin and shea butter creams are inexpensive and effective, an they rarely cause allergies if lanolin or shea butter is not the first-listed ingredient on the label.
5. Colorize. Covering up stretch marks is not hard. Anything that darkens surrounding skin makes stretch marks less noticeable. Lying out in the sun or going to a tanning booth will bring out darker skin tones, but this also dries out the skin. It’s best to use bronzers over your entire body to make marks less noticeable. You can work the bronzing agent into your skin with a cotton swab to get the color just right.
Microdermabrasion, prescription medications, and laser surgery can treat teenage stretch marks, but these measures are usually not required. A budget of $5 a week or less is enough to buy the products that work the best for treating and preventing stretch marks in young growing skin, as long as they are used on a regular basis.