From dry buffing to drinking gallons of water, many of us spend a lot of time and energy striving to achieve flawless skin. So, when a bunch of pesky stretch marks shows up, it can be incredibly disheartening! But don’t worry because you’re not alone. Stretch marks are a common skin complaint, affecting 90 percent of women who have been pregnant, 70 percent of adolescent females and 40 percent of adolescent males.
So, what are they?
Also known as striae, stretch marks are deep, groove-like lines that appear in the skin after the dermal layer has been stretched beyond its normal size. Usually occurring during pregnancy, adolescence or periods of weight gain, stretch marks are found in areas that are prone to an increase in sizes, such as the abdomen and thighs. Anyone who works out is also liable to get stretch marks on their arms because the increase in muscle mass causes the skin to stretch unexpectedly.
The good news is that if you have recent stretch marks, you have a good chance of minimizing their appearance. But be warned, the older the stretch marks get, the harder you have to work at reducing them.
Okay, so what can you do to avoid them?
While there are plenty of things you can do to minimize your chances of getting stretch marks from exercise or weight gain, when it comes to pregnancy, the odds of getting stretch marks increase by 50 percent if your mother suffered from them — which is up there with all the other life odds you didn’t expect! During pregnancy, genetics play a significant role in stretch marks, so while there might not be much you can do to stop them, there are ways to reduce their appearance.
What to Do About Stretch Marks
- Diet – Eating plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains will help you to avoid gaining unnecessary weight, which could contribute to stretch marks. Avoid eating processed, sugary foods, as they will pile on the pounds and force your skin to stretch!
- Exercise – Getting up and about will help to stave off unwanted pounds while keeping your muscles toned.
- Water – Water is essential for keeping your skin hydrated, so aim for at least eight glasses a day.
- Vitamin E – Used as a food supplement and as a massage oil, vitamin E is proven to keep skin supple and elastic, as well as helping to support your immunity.
- Moisturize – Many moms-to-be turn to cocoa butter to keep their bumps moisturized and their skin supple.
But what if you already have them?
Luckily, there are ways you can reduce the appearance of your stretch marks, using items that you probably already have around the home. Aloe vera gel is well regarded for its abilities to reduce the appearance of stretch marks due to its intensively moisturizing and anti-inflammatory effects. If you have an aloe vera plant, snap off a piece and rub the gel into your skin twice a day to lighten the appearance of stretch marks.
Lemon is also known for its abilities to boost collagen production in the skin as it contains large quantities of vitamin C. Squeeze the juice of a lemon onto your stretch marks, leave for 20 minutes and wash off with warm water.
While these home remedies might help, the most effective way to remove stretch marks is through laser treatment. The laser kick-starts the body’s natural healing process by removing the damaged tissues and promoting the production of collagen to improve the texture and color of the skin. Microneedles is another way to build collagen production and make stretch marks less noticeable.
Of course, there is a simple alternative to these treatments: learn to love them! Stretch marks are a natural function of the body and nothing to warrant shame. Embracing them is a positive step for both your mind and body!