We often wrongly assume that only women are prone to stretch marks. Though the fact is stretch marks in men are as common as in women. Men are more likely to get them on the back, shoulder and underarms. Stretch marks develop on the skin surface due to overstretching of the skin. Normally, skin possesses excellent elastic properties which makes it quite flexible and stretchable. However, if it is stretched beyond its natural capacity, then the fibrous tissue that lie in the inner layer of the skin (or dermis) tear apart and fine lines that are pink or purplish in color appear on the skin.
Some men tend to get stretch marks at the onset of puberty. During this stage, the body of a young adult becomes tall and wide very rapidly. This sudden growth spurt stretches the skin beyond its capacity and leads to stretch marks. Athletes and body builders who workout to build up muscle mass often get stretch marks on shoulder and underarm as these areas tend to gain bulk muscle rather quickly which exert pressure on the skin.
Hormone fluctuation is another factor responsible for male stretch marks. A specific hormone named glucocorticoids released by adrenal gland has an adverse effect on the production of collagen and elastin fibers. These two components facilitate stretching of the skin while it is growing. Lack of elastin and collagen makes the tissue susceptible to breakage, resulting in stretch marks. Increase in the production of glucocorticoid hormones is mostly triggered by puberty, obesity or overuse of steroids by athletes. Some people get stretch marks without any weight gain. In those cases, it can be caused due to some underlying health problem; genetic disorder Marfan syndrome, diabetes and nutritional deficiency being some of them.
There are many stretch mark removal creams and lotions available in the market that claim to be effective. Among them, tretinoin cream is considered as the best by most people. Vitamin A present in this cream promotes growth of new skin cells that replaces the old damaged cells. Thus it reduces the appearance of the stretch marks and prevents any further break down of the skin.
Bleaching creams are available over the counter as well as on prescription. When it is applied on the stretch marks, then the stretch marks fade and get blended with the rest of the skin. To obtain best results in skin care, it should be applied on fresh stretch marks that are reddish in color.
Exfoliation of the skin can be helpful for the removal of stretch marks. Microdermabrasion is one such method where small crystals are used for skin exfoliation. Chemical peel is another technique where chemical solutions with acidic component are applied to the skin that peels off the outermost layer of the skin and the underlying unaffected skin is revealed. In both these techniques, a number of sessions are needed before any signs of improvement are visible.
Then there is laser treatment for stretch marks. Here, the affected skin is exposed to lasers that burns off the upper layer of the skin and is replaced by underlying skin layer with improved texture. It also increases the production of collagen that improves the skin elasticity. Thus, it reduces the chances of any further damage to the skin in future.
Stretch marks in men can be prevented to some extent with the help of a few precautionary measures. During adolescent stage, one should eat healthy foods that contain high amounts of protein and vitamins A, C and E that can improve the overall skin condition. Additional supplements of vitamins can also be taken to improve the elastic properties of skin. You should also drink plenty of water to keep the skin hydrated. Those who are trying to build up muscle should do it sensibly. You must keep in mind one thing that your body cannot cope up with excessive weight gain all of a sudden. So keep your weight training at a moderate level.