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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

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Your 12 Most Embarrassing Beauty Questions -- Answered

9. Why do I have stretch marks?

You may suspect that the marks on your tummy, thighs or hips were caused by pregnancy or significant weight fluctuations. What you may not know, though, is that hormonal changes that occur during normal growth spurts can also cause your skin to stretch and scar, says Lawrence Moy, M.D. Red marks appear when your skin stretches and thins so much that you can see your blood flowing through the skin's thinned outer layers, says Joseph L. Jorizzo, M.D., When your skin stretches minimally or the stretched skin is thick, white marks result.

The fix: No treatment is guaranteed to remove stretch marks, but you can make them less noticeable. Try twice-daily applications of OTC Striae Stretch Mark Creme - several studies have confirmed that it can reduce red or white marks in about four weeks. Or ask your doctor about laser therapy ($450 to $700 per treatment), which can tone down the brightness of recently acquired red marks, or microdermabrasion ($50 to $150 per session), which can diminish the appearance of white marks.

10. Could there be a serious underlying cause for excess facial hair?

If you fight your follicles on a daily basis or sprout lots of hairs on your chin, see your doctor. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (a disorder characterized by high levels of male hormones) or an adrenal gland problem could be to blame. If you're moderately hairy (you tidy up your brows or upper-lip area once a month), you've probably just got your genes to thank.

The fix: Vaniqa - a new, odorless prescription cream- has recently been approved by the FDA to decrease light to heavy hair growth anywhere on the face ($50 for a two-month supply). Though it doesn't yield immediate results (you'll need to keep using your regular hair-removal methods at first), the cream blocks one of the enzymes responsible for hair growth, gradually slowing it down as long as you continue to use it, says Ken Washenik, M.D., director of dermatopharmacology at New York University School of Medicine. For those who don't respond to Vaniqa, six laser hair treatments ($150 each) can significantly decrease hair growth for months. A monthly electrolysis session for up to a year ($60 to $100 each) can remove hair permanently.

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