Teen Stretch Marks and Growing Pains: Causes and Treatments
It’s tough being a teenager. Life is changing fast and so are their bodies. There are so many physical changes that come along with teenage puberty. Teens are getting taller, growing body hair, and gaining weight in new places.
These developments are also paired with shifts in hormones and mood swings that make many teens worry more about their appearance. For teens that constantly worry about what they look like and what their peers think of them, sudden physical changes can be a source of stress and anxiety.
Among these bodily changes and development, stretch marks are something that can cause your teenager lots of pain (both emotionally and physically)!
Rather than fear change, it’s important to explain to growing tweens and teens that getting stretch marks is normal, and not something to be ashamed of embarrassed about.
What Are Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks are fine lines in the skin that occur when quick growth or rapid weight gain stretches the skin (like during puberty). Skin is usually pretty stretchy, but when it's overstretched, the normal production of collagen is disrupted, resulting in the skin developing stretch marks.
In the beginning, stretch marks present as reddish or purplish lines that look indented and have the texture of a run in a pair of pantyhose from the skin around them. Stretch marks usually lighten up and almost disappear over time.
What Are Some Common Causes of Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks develop during periods of rapid growth or weight gain. Appetite increases during puberty as the body readies itself for a growth spurt. As this happens, many tweens and teens get heavier before they grow taller.
Stretch marks happen when skin gets overstretched and pushed past its regular elasticity. Teenagers, pregnant women, and anyone who gains a lot of weight in a short time span are likely to have at least some stretch marks. Stretch marks can appear on the stomach, chest, hips, thighs, lower back, arms and breasts.
Other factors that can make teens predisposed to stretch marks can include a genetic risk or family history of stretch marks, pregnancy, being overweight or obese or taking a cortisol medication for certain health conditions.
All parts of a child’s body change, and it is not unusual to see even a fifteen-pound weight gain over a relatively short period of time. This happens to both females and males.
Can Stretch Marks Disappear or Be Treated?
Many teens immediate response to seeing new stretch marks appear on their body is of shame and insecurity. They may feel that having stretch marks makes them weird or cause them to want to change their body by dieting/losing weight.
However, as parents it’s important to make sure your child understands that these stretch marks and other signs of puberty are normal and totally natural! Almost everyone experiences things like stretch marks and cellulite at some point in their lives. There is no miracle cure or cream to cure stretch marks forever!
However, if your teen is still extremely distressed and insecure about their stretch marks and they’re particularly visible, there are some non-invasive over-the-counter and home remedies that can help lessen the appearance of stretch marks on the skin.
Some people have seen success with applying cocoa butter moisturizer, vitamin E oils and glycol to the skin to help the marks fade more. However, doctors advise that these products do not cause stretch marks to disappear entirely, just lessen their appearance.
Diet and Exercise for Reducing Stretch Marks and Keeping Skin Healthy
Proper nutrition and drinking a lot of water has also helped some teens limit the amount of stretch marks that a person develops. Eating a well-balanced diet loaded with vitamins and minerals can be a good defense against stretch marks. Focusing on antioxidants that are good for your skin such as beta-carotene and vitamins C, E, and A. Foods that promote collagen development. Green vegetables, berries, avocados, and lean meats are foods that promote the development of collagen.
Collagen is a protein in the body that strengthens skin, elasticizes it, and help prevent skin from stretching, tearing, and scarring during growth spurts. If your child will eat these types of foods, try to integrate them into his/her daily meals.
What if My Teen Has Painful Stretch Marks and Swelling?
While in most cases, stretch marks are painless, some teens may experience growing pains and stinging while these marks are still fresh. Teen boys in particular commonly get stretch marks on their back or sides, if they go through a rapid growth spurt. Stretch marks in teen boys can come with painful swelling, back pain, aches in their bones during puberty as they grow taller. These growing pains occur most often in the legs and back. You can ease this discomfort with things like ice packs or a cold compress applied to the painful area to reduce the swelling and inflammation.
Teach Teens Not to Fear Stretch Marks and Promote Self-Acceptance
Like any change, it will take some time for teens to adjust to having stretch marks. Especially, as the appearance is often the most noticeable in the first few weeks or months while the marks are new. However, over time stretch marks fade on their own.
The more time passes, deep purple and red stretch marks fade to white or become completely unnoticeable. It’s a parent’s responsibility not to draw attention/criticize these changes and instead reassure your son or daughter that they shouldn’t worry, the marks will fade in time. At the end of the day, stretch marks are just another sign of growth and represent another part of going from a child to a young adult. And that’s something to be proud of!