The scientific name for stretch marks is “striae gravidarum”. Some doctors and midwives may call them simply, striae (pronounced, “stree-eye”). Stretch marks are the result of separation of the outer layers of the skin and overstretching (and damage) of underlying connective layers of skin. The results are reddened stripes on the breasts, abdomen and thighs. Although the damage is permanent, the marks become less pronounced and the reddish color becomes a silvery white. Often, the skin in and around stretch marks itches or feels uncomfortable.
In the past it was believed that stretch marks were caused by excessive weight gain and large uterine size. However, many smaller women who gain comparatively little weight can develop stretch marks, and many large women do not. Most of the explanation for stretch marks lies in a woman’s genes. If there is a nutritional or skin care factor involved, it has not yet been discovered.
What can you do to prevent stretch marks?…… probably not much. Oils and ointments which contain Vitamin E have been suggested as a preventive measure. But the science is unconvincing.