Stretch marks are purple-red streaky scars that appear in overstretched skin. Around half of all pregnant women will develop stretch marks (striae gravidarum), usually in the third trimester, as the abdominal skin is forced to accommodate the growing uterus. Some pregnant women also develop stretch marks on the breasts, hips, buttocks and thighs. Another common cause of stretch marks is rapid weight gain. Depending on the skin type, fresh stretch marks can be pink, purple, brown or red. Over time, the stretch marks lose their bright colouring and become silvery, shimmering lines.
Symptoms of Stretch Marks
The evolution of a stretch mark includes:
- The skin is stretched beyond its capacity
- The underlying tissue tears
- The body responds by forming scar tissue
- The fresh stretch mark looks pink, red, brown or purple
- Over time, the co lour fades
- The stretch mark becomes a shimmering, silvery line
- The silvery line may look slightly indented
- The scar is permanent.
Who gets them?
- Stretch marks often appear on the breast and abdomen during pregnancy. The reason is partly hormonal. During pregnancy, hormones have the job of softening the collagen ligaments of the pelvis, so that the tissues can stretch easily during childbirth. Unfortunately, the skin collagen softens as well, allowing stretch marks to form easily.
- Some women have weaker collagen than others, so are more likely to get stretch marks. Recent research suggests that if you have stretch marks, your pelvic floor ligaments may be slightly weak, so it is very important to do floor exercises after childbirth to prevent incontinence of urine.
- Yo-yo dieters and bodybuilders can get stretch marks on the upper arms, chest and thighs.
- Growing adolescents can get them on their backs, where they look like a series of horizontal lines.
Stretch marks are purple-red streaky scars that appear in overstretched skin.
Around half of all pregnant women will develop stretch marks (striae gravidarum).
Over time, stretch marks lose their bright colouring and become silvery, shimmering lines.
How To Get Rid of Stretch Marks
- Brush your skin with a loofah or skin brush when you shower to stimulate circulation.
- Eat foods high in vitamins A, E and C or take supplements in addition to your diet.
- However, pregnant women should avoid taking more than 25,000 IU of vitamin A.
- Use vitamin E oil on your stretch marks. Massage it into your skin after a shower.
- Talk to your doctor about using tretinoin cream on stretch marks. It is available by prescription only
- Massage cocoa butter into the stretch marks.
- Eat foods that contain essential fatty acids, which help make cell walls. Essential fatty acids can be found in many vegetables, vegetable oils and fish oils.
Prevention Of Stretch Marks
Research is contradictory. Most studies maintain that creams and lotions can’t prevent stretch marks, but some trials have found significant successes with certain creams. Prevention suggestions include:
- Eat sensibly to avoid gaining excess body fat.
- Eat a highly nutritious diet to maintain the health of your skin.
- Wear a supportive maternity bra throughout pregnancy.
- Consider using creams that include centella asiatica extract, alpha tocopherol (vitamin E) and collagen-elastin hydrolysates
- Try to avoid yo-yo dieting. If you are overweight, aim to lose it slowly (do not aim to lose more than 0.5 kg (1 lb) a week).