Everything You Need to Know
About Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are narrow, jagged streaks that develop on the skin due to rapid hormonal changes and growth. You probably developed yours during puberty or pregnancy, or after drastically losing or gaining weight. Like scars, these marks are permanent. But this doesn’t mean you can’t make them less noticeable. From gels and creams to laser treatment, there are various ways to make your stretch marks fade. Similarly, though, there are many misconceptions about dermal scarring that could hinder you from getting the results you want. It pays to know what exactly stretch marks are, and why and how they develop before you get any treatment.

The Science Behind Stretch Marks

Stretch marks, medically known as striae distensae, is our skin’s natural response to rapid growth or sudden stretching. When the skin is stretched beyond its normal tugging and pulling capacity, its elastin and collagen fibers begin to break down. In turn, the skin loses the capability to bounce back from growth and stretching; it will eventually tear and scar.

Stretched Too Far, Too Fast:
The Causes of Stretch Marks​

Since stretch marks form if the skin is stretched too far over a short period, you can pinpoint their cause to one or more of the following events in your life:

  • Pregnancy - It is estimated that 50 to 90 percent of women will develop stretch marks before they give birth, particularly during the third trimester of their pregnancy. During this period, you probably gain between 25 and 30 pounds. Your body isn't usually prepared to gain that much weight that quickly. It will strain your skin’s ability to stretch, especially around your middle.
  • Puberty - Got light streaks on the back of your thighs that you only discovered in your early 20s? You probably first developed those stretch marks during your teenage years. It’s a common occurrence during puberty. After all, teens experience many changes in their body in a relatively short period, and those include sudden growth spurts.
  • Weight Gain - Sudden weight gain happens for many reasons. These include having medical or hormonal conditions such as thyroid issues and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or menopause in women. Too much stress and some medications can also cause rapid weight gain.
    Again, when you gain weight quickly, the collagen fibers in your skin struggle to keep up, leaving you with jagged streaks in your arms, thighs, stomach, or buttocks. Similarly, a sudden increase in muscle mass because of weight lifting can cause your skin to develop dermal scarring.
  • Topical Steroid Creams - Individuals who are not too keen on using over-the-counter products can turn to natural alternatives. Lemons, for example, are rich in Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) that help lighten old scars and remove dead skin cells. Dip a cotton ball in lemon juice and dab it on the affected area. Keep it on for about 10 minutes before you rinse it off.
    Corticosteroids in these creams can break down connective tissues in your skin, causing tears that are harder to reduce in appearance than streaks caused by pregnancy or puberty.

Stretch Marks Don't All Look Alike

Stretch marks can appear almost anywhere on your body, but it tends to be concentrated around the stomach, thighs, hips, and buttocks. Their color or appearance also varies depending on how long you’ve had them, which color or type of skin you have, and what caused them. They can be:

  • Pink, reddish-brown, or purple streaks, especially when they first appear;
  • Indented streaks or lines in the stomach due to pregnancy;
  • Widespread streaks covering large areas of the body; or
  • Bright streaks in the arms and thighs that fade to a deeper color.

With time, stretch marks become less noticeable and end up blending into the color of your skin. Some people, however, feel distressed about the way their stretch marks make their skin look, especially when they’ve only just noticed these jagged streaks for a few months or years. So, even if dermal scarring isn’t harmful or painful (except the fact that it can be itchy), many people turn to various treatment options to address their concerns.

Make the Marks Less Noticeable

Making your stretch marks less noticeable doesn’t require invasive medical treatment. The following options can help improve the color, texture, and overall appearance of stretch marks:

Retinoid Cream

Cream products that contain retinoids like tretinoin help reduce the appearance of stretch marks that are less than a few months old. Tretinoin helps rebuild the collagen fibers in your skin, making the jagged streaks look more like your normal skin.
Tretinoin, however, can irritate the skin. It makes your skin extra-sensitive to UV rays, so make sure to apply sunscreen or SPF moisturizer in skin areas where you use retinoid cream. It's best to consult with your doctor to know if retinoid cream is the most suitable option for you.

Essential Oils

Plant oils that contain linoleic acid or omega-6 fatty acid help protect and repair skin. They also promote skin elasticity, making them an ideal option to achieve lighter stretch marks.
Another plant extract that's helpful in making your marks less noticeable is Centella Asiatica. It boosts cells in your skin that produce collage and build up skin tissues. In many parts of Asia, people use it to help heal wounds or scars.
No matter which essential oils you use, make sure they are diluted to avoid skin irritation. You can consider using oil products that combine essential oils with carrier oils.

If you do seek treatment for your stretch mark woes, know that treatment options are often only partially effective. They only improve the appearance of the marks, so they become less apparent. They don’t remove the streaks completely.

Prevent the Stretch marks If You Can

Of the many causes of stretch marks, some are manageable, such as weight gain and steroid creams:

  • Control Your Weight - Maintain a healthy, stable weight, especially if you're pregnant. Switch to a healthy diet and make a lifestyle change to avoid being overweight. On the other hand, if you're into weightlifting, seek professional advice on how you can avoid sudden weight gain, as well.
  • Use Non-steroidal Creams - If you use steroid creams and want to prevent stretch marks, consult your doctor about other available treatment options for your skin condition. If there are no other options, keep your skin hydrated and well-moisturized to minimize the impact of steroids.
  • Apply Natural Oils - Coconut oil, olive oil, Centella Asiatica extract, and other natural oils help improve skin elasticity, preventing stretch marks. Apply them to your belly, thighs, arms, or any skin areas that are likely to be affected by stretch marks. But again, make sure to use diluted essential oils to avoid irritation.

Stretch marks are completely normal. But if having them on your thighs, stomach, or arms bothers you, there are ways to improve their appearance — you just have to pick one that best suits your needs. 

Contact us today at click@vitamaxprime.com to know more about stretch mark treatment. 

 

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