Ans: It is possible that your son may have developed stretch marks during his growth spurt. When there is rapid growth or rapid weight gain, especially during the teenage years, stretch marks are common for both boys and girls.
Many changes occur during the teenage years. Some of these changes can be difficult for teens to accept, especially when it comes to their bodies and the way they see themselves. Stretch marks may be part of these changes.
Stretch marks are caused by excessive stretching of the skin. It may appear on the abdomen, chest, hips, lower back, and thighs. Because of the presence of connective tissue and collagen in these areas, excessive stretching can lead to reddish-purple scars. Over time, these scars usually become thinner and whiter.
Other factors that make teens more likely to develop stretch marks include a genetic risk or family history of stretch marks, being overweight or obese, being pregnant, or using topical or oral steroids, such as the drug prednisone.
Many parents and teens are turning to the Internet to find out what they can do to treat stretch marks. They are advised to try a variety of so-called “magic cures”, which extend to coffee, lemon juice and vitamin E as well as a wide range of creams. Some sources may even advise covering stretch marks with plastic wrap. It can be difficult to differentiate between what is true and what are just unsubstantiated prescriptions.
Some home remedies, such as cocoa butter, vitamin E oils and glycols, claim to make stretch marks fade or disappear. Most of the time, these treatments won’t make your stretch marks disappear. But at the same time, there is no harm in trying it.
Medically speaking, stretch marks do not require treatment because they do not cause harm or pain. They often fade over time, with or without treatment, but they may never go away completely.
Some people feel unhappy with the appearance of their skin because of these marks. If your son is concerned about these signs, here are some treatment options that can make a difference:
- Retinoid cream
This prescription treatment helps rebuild collagen in the skin, which helps scar tissue appear closer to skin’s natural appearance and reduces the appearance of stretch marks.
- Light or laser therapy
This treatment helps stimulate the growth of collagen or elastin in the skin and can reduce redness.
A handheld device that shoots crystals into the skin that scrape off the layer of skin to make it look normal again.
If you want to treat your son’s stretch marks with a retinoid cream, ask your child’s pediatrician or family doctor for a prescription. But an appointment with a dermatologist may be needed to discuss any other treatment options.
Adolescence is an appropriate time to talk about general skin health. Everyone, including teens, should avoid sunburn by avoiding sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 year-round, and avoiding tanning beds.
Finally, it is essential to perform regular skin self-examinations. You should consult the health care team if any differences or changes appear, such as the appearance of moles that have a distinctive shape or different from the rest of the rest of the body. — Kevin Boyd, MD , dermatologist, Mayo Clinic Health System, Onalaska, Wisconsin
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