By the time I got diagnosed with hypothyroidism and PCOS, the damage was done to my body. My body was riddled with stretch marks, pink and purple scars cut into my once clear skin. Of course I was devastated, the hormonal changes and rapid weight gain caused by my illnesses had caused permanent, visual damage to my body. It took a long time to accept that these were now a part of my appearance. Stretch marks are common during puberty, pregnancy, large growth spurts, or weight changes. A lot of teenage girls get them as they undergo hormonal changes, and men can be susceptible to them as well, particularly during growth spurts.
So what are stretch marks?
Stretch marks are caused by stretching of the dermis layer of the skin, which is the second layer. This is why the stretch marks are visible scars (they're close to the surface) but don't bleed or hurt (they're still under the surface of your skin). As said earlier, rapid physical changes or undergoing hormonal changes can cause stretch marks to form. Although a lot of people find them unsightly on their body, they are quite common. The most common areas for them during puberty are on the thighs, and during pregnancy is on the stomach. Bodybuilders are also prone to stretch marks due to the large physical changes they undergo.
How do I prevent them?
There is no unified or verified way to prevent stretch marks. Since they're a cause of physical or hormonal changes, they can often be difficult to predict or prevent. A popular prevention method used is oil based moisturisers. These supposedly moisturise the dermis layer enough that it doesn't stretch as rapidly and scar.
How do I get rid of them?
Unfortunately there is no method to remove stretch marks either. Oils are widely used in an attempt to remove or lessen them, however their usefulness has not been verified. Stretch marks will fade over time, and eventually go from purple/pink to a shade lighter than your skin. Sometimes they are raised but over time tend to get back in level with your skin. After some time they will hardly be visible. Steroid creams are available from your GP that may increase the tightness of the skin and thus reduce the appearance of the stretch marks. Laser stretch mark removal is also available from beauticians and health clinics. These methods do not fully remove the stretch marks, they just reduce the appearance.
Stretch marks are totally normal, I'd wager a large number of people you know have them. They're nothing to be embarrassed by, and they definitely don't imply that you're fat, which is what I've heard some people say before. Over time they'll fade and you'll hardly notice them. If you're self conscious about them then try not to obsess. If you feel better buying an oil then go ahead, but they'll fade in time and you'll forget you were ever worried about them!