Stretch marks are irregular lines or indented streaks on the skin where it has been stretched. Pregnant women who rapidly gain or lose weight are likely to get these striae. Teenagers who experience a sudden growth spurt may also see stretch marks develop on their skin.
They are usually seen on the upper arms, belly, hips, breasts, thighs, butt, and other body parts. For some people who lose weight, their stretch marks can be reduced and even disappear but this doesn’t happen to everyone.
What are stretch marks?
A stretch mark is a type of scar that looks like a streaky line on the skin. They can appear as red, pink, purple, brown or silver streaks, depending on the color of your skin. This scar type develops because the skin stretches or shrinks too quickly and there is disruption in the skin’s collagen fibres.
This abrupt change causes disruption of elastin and collagen, leading to a scar. As the skin heals after the rupture, stretch marks suddenly appear.
In pregnancy, the stretch marks could start as red stretch marks, then later on turn to white indicating that they have healed over a period of time.
You could be genetically predisposed to get stretch marks, especially if your mother or sister had them as well. It has been established that over 90% of women will get stretch marks especially during the later stages of pregnancy.
There are some women who will see them in the second trimester while others might have them when they reach 30 weeks. There are those who may see the scars during the last few weeks of the third trimester.
How to prevent stretch marks
Here are some steps to try to minimize the chances of getting stretch marks:
Watch your weight during this period because rapid mass gain will make you more likely to get them. Gaining a healthy amount of weight may lessen the likelihood of getting stretch marks by preventing overstretched skin. Exercise also helps because it will give you good blood flow and promotes antioxidants, which are crucial for stimulating new collagen.
It would be best to detect them as soon as possible. Fresh scars can be itchy and may feel slightly raised. Over time, the color may fade and the narrow bands will settle and sink beneath your skin, making it harder to get rid of them.
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water because it will help let your skin stay soft and pliable. Moisturize often and use your favorite moisturizer or stretch mark prevention cream to massage areas where they have started to appear.
Choose a paraben-free stretch mark cream and rub it across your stomach, thighs, hips, and bust every morning and night. Massage in a circular motion to encourage blood circulation. Massage these areas several times a day.
Exfoliate your skin regularly using store-bought exfoliators or you can make DIY scrubs made of dried orange peels and yoghurt.
Supplements such as Vitamin E can help repair skin and replenish collagen. Massaging your body with Vitamin E oil can help minimize their appearance.
It may be difficult to avoid getting stretch marks but there are laser and radiofrequency (RF) treatments that may help to stimulate the production of new collagen and lessen their appearance.
Aside from applying stretch mark prevention creams, you may also benefit from applying topical retinoids, especially if they are still fresh and have just started to appear. The retinoid cream can help replenish the collagen in your skin and make the marks blend in with the rest of your skin.
Chemical peels and glycolic acid creams may help lessen their appearance of but they might not be able to prevent new ones from forming.
Make sure to ask your dermatologist and gynaecologist if these treatments are safe for pregnancy, or if you have to wait until after delivery to have them.
Alternative solutions for prevention
For a lot of pregnant women, the best way to avoid getting stretch marks is to gain weight slowly and steadily over a long period of time. You can consult your gynaecologist or get a referral for a nutritionist. They can help you choose a diet and exercise plan to prevent you from gaining too much weight, while also providing you and your baby the right nutrition.
Here are some more tips in order to get natural relief for stretch marks:
Eat zinc-rich food such as fish or nuts. Our body can’t naturally produce zinc, which is why we need to get it through our diet. This essential nutrient enhances the production of collagen, which can improve the skin’s elasticity. This allows the skin to stretch without breaking and leave unsightly stretch marks.
Eat protein-rich food such as eggs, bean curd, legumes, tofu, and meat. The lack of protein in your body may affect the collagen content of your skin.
Use a wash cloth or body brush to massage areas where they have started to appear or areas where you want to prevent them from appearing. Wash these body parts in a circular motion to increase circulation.
Some pregnant women get stretch marks on their breasts so as a preventive measure, use a maternity bra to provide additional support to your breasts.
If you think you may be at risk for getting stretch marks, you can follow the alternative solutions mentioned in this article. Strive to keep your weight in check, eat food rich in protein and zinc, and seek treatment as soon as you observe the appearance of stretch marks. You can start massaging areas of your body with stretch mark prevention cream and Vitamin E oils in order to prevent getting stretch marks.
When you do find signs of stretch marks, you may consult with a dermatologist about using retinoid creams, chemical peels, or glycolic acid creams in order to treat them.
Original Article: theAsianparent