Most women suffer from stretch marks usually after pregnancy, but that’s not the only cause for it. Men too have stretch marks and so do women who are not pregnant. Stretch marks occur due to a sudden weight gain or weight loss. There is no denying the fact that stretch marks can turn out to be quite annoying. Be it, teenagers or adults, people of all age groups can anyone can experience stretch marks. People often end up resorting to various beauty treatments to get rid of stretch marks. However, not many realise that chemical-laden beauty treatments also come along with their own sets of side-effects. In order to steer clear of the harmful side-effects, one can bring to use some effective home remedies. Various natural products can help reduce stretch marks and lighten them if not make them disappear completely. However, it requires a regular skincare programme and strict discipline.
What exactly is a stretch mark?
Stretch marks fade with time; however, treatment may make them less noticeable more quickly.
A stretch mark is a type of scar that develops when our skin stretches or shrinks quickly. The abrupt change causes the collagen and elastin, which support our skin, to rupture. As the skin heals, stretch marks may appear.
Not everyone develops these narrow bands on their skin. Fluctuating hormone levels seem to play a role. You may also have a higher risk if people in your family get stretch marks.
If you develop stretch marks, you’re most likely to do so during these times:
- Growth spurts that happen in puberty
- Rapid weight loss or gain
- Weight training when you have rapid muscle growth
Applying a corticosteroid to your skin for a long time can also cause stretch marks. If you have Cushing’s disease or Marfan syndrome, you may see stretch marks.
When stretch marks first appear, they tend to be red, purple, pink, reddish-brown, or dark brown, depending on your skin colour. Early stretch marks may feel slightly raised and can be itchy.
In time, the colour fades, and the narrow bands sink beneath your skin. If you run your finger over a mature stretch mark, you often feel a slight depression.
What causes stretch marks?
Stretch marks are micro-tears within the dermal (collagen) layer of the skin, resulting in irregular, thinner and rippled looking skin.
Approximately 50 per cent of adolescents or adults have some form of stretch marks. Females with pregnancies are even more susceptible.
As for what causes them, stretch marks are linked to any quick change in size or weight.
Stretch marks occur when there is rapid stretching of the skin which occurs with growth spurts, weight gain, in bodybuilders and during pregnancy. They can also occur in some medical condition associated with excess cortisol in the body.
What’s occurring is that] collagen and elastic fibres in the support layer of the skin are torn and produce scarring in the form of stretch marks.
STRETCH MARKS SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Stretch marks are not a pretty sight and can make you stay covered all the time, even when hitting the beach. They can appear in various body parts, including the stomach, thighs, upper arms, buttocks, lower back, breasts, etc. The size and the colour of the scars can vary from person to person. Topical moisturises are not quite effective in this regard as it is a condition affecting the dermis, and the superficial application of ointments does not fade the marks. There are various affordable aesthetic medical treatments such as dermabrasion and laser that can renew the skin and allow you to wear whatever you want.
Most of the cases that come to us are for striae gravidarum, also known as pregnancy stretch marks which affect almost 90% of pregnant women. These are a result of the abdominal skin trying to fit the growing uterus. Another common cause of stretch marks is quick weight gain or fast growth of the body during the teen years.
What areas on the body do stretch marks occur?
Where on the body you’re most likely to get stretch marks depends on what kind of change your body is going through.
It depends on the growth sites. In pregnancy, the abdomen is common, whereas through puberty it is most likely to be the thighs, buttocks and breasts. For bodybuilders, it is commonly the shoulders, upper arms and chest.
Home Remedies for Stretch Marks
Getting rid of stretch marks in a completely natural way isn’t likely. They’re a type of scarring that rarely fades enough to become invisible. However, some remedies can help minimise the appearance of stretch marks and help them to fade more quickly.
Vitamin A is referred to as a retinoid. Retinoids make skin appear smoother and more youthful. They’re used in many over-the-counter topical cosmetic creams.
Simply using a topical extract of vitamin A, or taking vitamin A orally, can contribute to your skin’s health and overall appearance. A diet rich in certain foods, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, might also help you increase your vitamin A levels.
In an older study in 1996Trusted Source, researchers identified retinoids as helping the appearance of stretch marks. Further research is still necessary to identify all of its effects on stretch marks.
Apricot Mask and Oil
Apricots have great exfoliating tendencies, which make them very effective when it comes to healing stretch marks. Take 2-3 apricots, cut them and take out the seeds. Crush the fruit into a paste and apply this mask on the stretch mark affected areas and leave it on for 15 minutes. Using warm water, wash it off and then repeat the process every day for a month to see results. Pure apricot oil has skin rejuvenating properties and therefore helps in reducing stretch marks. Massage onto the skin with some lemon juice for effective results.
Because of their dried, shrivelled up look, stretch marks need nourishment and moisture. Castor oil, when massaged onto the skin will help heal and smoothen the marks slowly. But this is something that you need to feed the skin with constantly.
Cucumber and Lemon Juice
Lemon juice’s natural acidity helps heal and reduce scars, and cucumber juice provides the cool soothing effect leaving your skin fresh. Mix lime juice and cucumber juice in equal parts, and apply the mixture on the affected areas till it gets soaked up by the skin. Let it be on your skin for approx. Ten minutes after which you can rinse it off using warm water.
Some people swear by sugar as a naturopathic microdermabrasion method.
Microdermabrasion performed by a dermatologist is one of the few clinically proven methods to make stretch marks fade. So this home remedy seems worth a try.
Rubbing a sugar scrub on the skin will exfoliate the area. To do this:
- Mix one cup sugar with 1/4 cup of a softening agent, like almond oil or coconut oil, before mixing to the consistency of wet beach sand.
- Add some lemon juice.
- Scrub the mixture on the part of your body where the stretch marks are.
- Repeat several times a week while in the shower, making sure to rub the mixture on for 8-10 minutes.
The use of cocoa butter helps reduce stretch marks, and have seen that if used during and after pregnancy, it makes the stretch marks disappear completely. The best time to use cocoa butter is at night, so massage it well into the skin, and over a period of time, you will find the stretch marks reducing and fading away.
While little clinical evidence exists for aloe vera as a stretch mark cure, pure aloe vera is both a natural healing agent and a skin softener. This makes it an ideal home remedy to try for stretch marks.
Apply pure aloe vera from a plant to your stretch marks daily after your shower.
Collagen is the protein in your skin that allows it to keep its shape and appear healthy. As we age, collagen decreases in our face and our bodies.
Collagen production can be stimulated with hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid can be absorbed by consuming a capsule or extract.
Since stretch marks are scarring from skin damage, coconut oil might help heal the appearance quickly.
Coconut oil has been studied for its healing properties and was found in rats to reduce the time it takes for skin wounds to heal.
Applying virgin coconut oil to your stretch marks each day might take away some of their red appearances. Unless you’re allergic to coconuts, this oil is considered safe.
Other treatment on removing white stretch marks
A simple way to treat white stretch marks is through regular exfoliation. This removes excess dead skin from your body and new skin from your stretch marks.
Exfoliating, alongside other treatment methods, can also enhance your results. Removing dead skin from your stretch marks allows other skin treatments to penetrate more deeply and work faster.
Topical creams and ointments are more affordable methods for reducing the appearance of white stretch marks. Some creams are available over-the-counter, while a doctor prescribes others.
Applied regularly, topical creams can lighten the tone of stretch marks, but they may not completely remove them. Before using any topical treatment, discuss your risks with your doctor. Some creams can trigger an allergic reaction or may not be strong enough to treat your condition.
Retinoid cream. Derived from vitamin A, retinoids — such as tretinoin (Retin-A, Renova, Avita) — that you apply to your skin may improve the appearance of stretch marks less than a few months old. Tretinoin, when it works, helps to rebuild collagen, making the stretch marks look more like your normal skin. Tretinoin can irritate your skin.
If you’re pregnant or nursing, talk with your doctor about other treatment options, because possible side effects of retinoid cream may affect the baby.
Microdermabrasion is a painless procedure to reduce the appearance of white stretch marks. This procedure targets the upper layer of skin (epidermis) and works by stimulating the skin to tighten collagen and elastin fibres.
In the procedure, tiny exfoliating crystals are sprayed onto the affected area, or a special tipped wand is rubbed over the area. Using a wand-like device, the crystals are gently removed, taking with them dead skin from the epidermis layer. For effective results, microdermabrasion needs to be repeated over a period of time.
After the procedure, your skin may feel tight and dry. There may be some redness from the exfoliation. It typically takes 24 hours for your skin to heal. Though effective, this procedure isn’t guaranteed to remove stretch marks fully. The severity of your stretch marks will influence your results.
Microneedling targets the dermis, the middle layer of your skin where stretch marks form. Within this procedure, tiny needles are poked into your skin to trigger collagen production. Increased collagen and elastin promote skin regeneration that can improve your skin’s appearance and reduce stretch marks.
To effectively treat stretch marks, you’ll need to participate in more than one treatment over the course of months. Microneedling is an effective treatment for reducing stretch marks, specifically for patients with darker skin.
Laser therapy is a common treatment option to remove white stretch marks. In the procedure, lasers penetrate the skin, triggering regeneration. This stimulates the tissues around your stretch marks to heal at a faster rate.
Laser therapy stimulates melanin production on the affected area, activating pigment cells in your skin. This causes your stretch marks to blend in with your normal skin tone. Though effective, laser therapy requires more than one session to notice results.
There are a number of different laser therapies used to treat stretch marks and other skin issues. Discuss your options with your dermatologist.
If other treatments are unsuccessful, cosmetic surgery is an option. This expensive yet effective, the option can permanently remove white stretch marks from your body. However, it’s important to understand that surgery can leave scars of its own.
A tummy tuck, medically known as an abdominoplasty, is a cosmetic procedure that not only removes stretch marks but also removes excess skin and fat from your abdomen. This procedure gives the skin and abdomen a flatter and firmer look. However, a surgical procedure comes with several health risks. Before pursuing this treatment, discuss your options with your doctor.
Can anything prevent stretch marks?
Anyone who has ever tried to combat stretch marks knows that there are countless lotions and creams on the market that claim to stop stretch mark in their tracks. But, there isn’t much evidence that shows that they actually work.
Preventing stretch marks is challenging since there is no way to make the skin to grow faster. Moisturisers may help, but the scientific data is limited.
You can’t really prevent stretch marks from developing, except by preventing episodes of significant, rapid weight gain, that will stretch skin too quickly before it has time to adjust.
How to prevent pregnancy stretch marks?
Stretch marks are very common during pregnancy and affect around 80% of expectant mothers. During pregnancy, hormones are produced that soften the ligaments in the pelvis to make it easier to give birth – these often soften your skin fibres too, making you prone to stretch marks. Stretch marks during pregnancy have a lot to do with genetics as well – so if your mother was prone to getting stretch marks when she was pregnant, then it’s likely that you will too. People with lighter skin tones are also more likely to get obvious stretch marks compared to those with darker skin as they aren’t as visible.
There is some way you can help reduce the amount of pregnancy stretch marks you get:
Moisturise – there is no miracle moisturiser to help with pregnancy stretch marks as the body is under so much strain. However, moisturising will help to prevent dryness and itchiness that comes along with a pregnant belly growing in size, and it will help to keep the skin nourished so that it doesn’t become sore
Eat lots of vitamins – eating food and drink rich in vitamin C such as fruits including strawberries, mangoes, and tomatoes, and veggies such as asparagus, and peppers – this will help to keep skin healthy, as well as to give valuable nutrition to your baby
Don’t gain weight too fast – although weight gain is a guaranteed side effect of pregnancy, try not to gain it too quickly, you should make sure you’re gaining weight at a steady pace rather than sporadically
When to seek a dermatologist’s expertise
Stretch mark treatments that you can buy at a store or online can be expensive. If you find yourself spending a lot of time and money without getting any results, seeing a board-certified dermatologist can be helpful.
The in-office procedures have proven more effective than creams, lotions, and gels. Dermatologists can also tell you about any new product or procedure that may help.
The best treatment for stretch marks appears to be prevention. By keeping your skin hydrated, you can help keep the elastin that your skin needs to keep from scarring.
Using topical creams such as coconut oil will keep your skin moisturised and make stretch marks less likely.
Even without treatment, almost all stretch marks will fade over time. Rarely will stretch marks stay as prominent as when they initially appear.