Stretch marks are lines or streaks that appear on the skin. They are also often refered to as striae or stria. When they first form, they are often red or purple before transitioning into a more silvery-white color. With most people, these marks can appear long and thin.
Stretch marks commonly happen wherever the skin has been stretched, specifically the areas where fat is stored, so:
- On the abdomen
- On breasts
- On upper arms
- On thighs
- With bodybuilders they appear on shoulders
- In teenage boys, they appear horizontaly, over their backs
There are also stretch marks which are caused by Cushing’s syndrome – this means that a person’s blood has high levels of cortisol. These stretch marks can be wider and larger, commonly appearing on the face.
Stretch marks often happen:
Stretch marks appear in the second or third trimester of pregnancy and 8 out of 10 women get them. This largely depends on the skin type and skin elasticity.
During pregnancy, there are hormones produced which make the ligaments in the pelvis softer so that a mother can be ready to give birth. However, this also softens the fibers in your skin which is what results in stretch marks.
They usually first appear on the abdomen, moving to the thighs and breasts. These do fade and but most often stretch marks don’t disappear.
After weight gain
If you put on a lot of weight in a short time, stretch marks can appear. They often stay on the same spot, even if you have lost the weight. However, they eventually fade away. Losing weight and gaining weight due to dieting can cause them as well – pick methods that will allow your body to adjust slowly.
The body develops quickly during puberty so teenagers often have stretch marks. Boys get them on their backs and shoulders and girls on their hips, thighs and breasts.
In people who have a genetic predisposition
If you have a relative with stretch marks, you are likely to develop them yourself. They can affect both males and females but they are more likely to happen in females.
If there is an underlying health problem
They can also be caused by Cushing’s syndrome or Marfan syndrome. Marfan syndrome means that the person has a faulty gene which makes the skin weaker and reduces its elasticity.
Just before they develop, your skin will start to feel itchy, become thin and pink. The first ones will be red or purple. They will appear as parallel lines that look like scars.
Eventually, they will flatten out. The color will also change to white. The process of stretch marks fading can often take years.
Most common cause of stretch marks is a rapid growth or weight gain. Because of this, the middle layer of the skin tears and allows the deeper skin levels to show. The blood vessels show and that’s why stretch marks are often red or purple at the start.
The blood vessels then get smaller and fat underneath your skin starts to show which is when your stretch marks become white.
How to get rid of stretch marks
Most people find stretch marks annoying. Some adapt over time and accept them, but some people continue to struggle with this. If you want to remove your stretch marks, here are some things that you can do:
One of the simplest ways to get rid of stretch marks is to exfoliate regularly. This will remove dead skin cells and reveal new skin. Using it with other methods may work better too. After you exfoliate, you can use other products to penetrate your skin and work faster.
Creams and ointments
Putting a cream or an ointment can help you reduce your stretch marks. Some creams you can buy in any store and for some, you’ll need prescription. If you apply cream or the ointment regularly, it will lighten the tone of your stretch marks. However, they will probably not go away completely.
This is a painless process of reducing the appearance of stretch marks. It targets the upper level of the skin, stimulating it and tightening collagen and elastin. Tiny crystals are applied on the area and a tipped wand is rubbed over the area, removing the crystals along with dead skin cells.
It should be repeated over a period of time.
You might experience some redness, tightness and similar sensations. It will take about 24 hours for this to reduce. This procedure doesn’t promise a complete removal, only a reduction.
This procedure targets the middle layer of your skin where the stretch marks first formed. Tiny needles are poked in your skin so that they can trigger collagen and elastin. You’ll probably need several treatments.
This therapy is a common treatment option which removes stretch marks. Lasers will penetrate your skin and triggers regeneration. Your stretch marks will blend in with your regular skin. You will need several treatments to get the full effects.
Cosmetic surgery is your option if other things don’t work. It’s expensive but effective and you can permanently remove stretch marks. However, it does leave its own scars.
Can stretch marks be removed naturally?
When stretch marks appear, they are red or purple – as the time goes on, they become white and almost shiny. Getting rid of them completely in a natural way probably isn’t likely because these scars rarely fade enough to become invisible. But you can use natural methods to reduce their appearance and make them transition into that translucent color more easily.
Use Vitamin A – Retinoid
Retinoid can make your skin appear much smoother, younger and better in general. You can find retinoid in many regular cosmetic products. Use a topical extract of the vitamin A or take it orally to improve your skin’s overall appearance.
You can also eat carrots, sweet potatoes and similar retinoid-rich food which can make this even more natural.
Apply sugar scrubs
People all over the world have reported sugar as their way of getting rid of stretch marks. Since microdermabrasion is so effective, this sugar scrub is worth a try – it will basically do a similar thing and exfoliate your skin.
Mix one cup sugar with something that will soften it – almond oil or coconut oil should work just fine. It should be of the same consistency as wet sand. You can also add some lemon juice.
Scrub this mix on the affected area and rub for 8-10 minutes. Repeat several times a week.
There is no scientific evidence that aloe vera can help with stretch marks but it does make the skin softer and heal better. If you have an aloe vera plant, use it directly on your stretch marks after a shower. Try to apply it every day.
This will support collagen production and stimulate skin healing. You can buy hyaluronic acid in a capsule or as an extract.
Stretch marks are basically scarring. Coconut oil can help reduce the appearance quickly. It naturally speeds up the process of healing. Unless you are allergic to coconuts, this should be a safe and effective remedy.
How to prevent Stretch Marks
Stretch marks are very hard to remove – but, fortunately, they are really easy to prevent. Keep in mind that if you are genetically predisposed to stretch marks, these methods may not work as much as you would want them to, but they will definitely help your skin scar less.
With each of these ways to prevent stretch marks, you need to be consistent for them to work.
Be in control of your weight
One of the best ways to prevent stretch marks is to remove the cause of them. And this is almost always weight gain. Always maintain a healthy weight in order to make sure that the stretch marks don’t appear.
Neither lose not gain too much weight quickly. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and exercise regularly. This will keep your weight at a good, healthy place and exercise will help your skin stay elastic.
Drink plenty of water
Drinking water can help your skin stay soft. Skin that has this level of softness doesn’t develop stretch marks. Caffeinated beverages may actually do more bad than good. Make sure that you are balancing this with water, herbal infusions and caffeine-free fluids.
Eat a healthy diet
If your nutrition is poor, the stretch marks will be more likely to appear. Eating healthy is a good way to boost your skin health and reduce the risk of stretch marks. Make sure you take enough vitamin C, D, E, zinc, and protein. Choose unprocessed food in fun colors. A simple breakfast of boiled eggs, whole wheat toast and a mix of berries is a perfect example of a colorful and nutritious diet.
Take vitamin C
Since collagen is such an important part of making your skin strong and less prone to stretch marks, you should take plenty of vitamin C – since it’s crucial to collagen development. Eat citrus fruits like lemons and oranges.
Enjoy vitamin D
There is a correlation between your levels of Vitamin D and stretch marks. If you want to reduce the risk of stretch marks, you need to take enough vitamin D. Either be out in the sun or eat food rich in it – cereal, dairy, and yogurt ect.
Zinc is crucial to skin health. Reducing inflammation and speeding up the healing process, zinc is a terrific solution to prevent stretch marks. You can get zinc by eating nuts and fish. This will help keep your skin healthy.
Use creams and ointments
Even if there is no reason to think that you will get stretch marks, you should apply a cream or an ointment to the most common stretch mark areas. This will add another level of protection and keep your skin smooth and healthy – especially do this if you are pregnant, it can make a huge difference.
Treat stretch marks as they appear
If you are still unable to prevent them, minimize their appearance as they start to occur. They will be harder to notice in the long run as well.
Some people are more prone to stretch marks. Here are some cases where you should take extra precautions if you want to prevent them:
Women develop stretch marks more than men
- If someone in your family has stretch marks, you are likely to have them too
- Being overweight
- If you are pregnant
- If you are often dieting
- If you are using corticosteroids
- If you have had a breast augmentation
- If you have any of the mentioned genetic disorders
Different Colored Stretch Marks and what they mean
Stretch marks appear in about 80% of people – men and women alike. Almost 90% of women get stretch marks during pregnancy. These aren’t a health problem but it is a beauty issue that many people find distressing.
While causes vary from person to person, there are some things that stay the same.
Color of the stretch marks can tell you a lot about what stage of fading they are in. For instance, purple or red stretch marks are fresh and have just appeared. This is the best time to treat them.
When they turn white, this means that they are fading – the fat is revealing itself and giving them almost a shiny color.
Stretch marks are an annoying appearance on your skin that’s hard to get rid of but very easy to prevent. Follow these tips to stop stretch marks from appearing.