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Nnenna Okoye: The Truth Behind Our Stretch Marks!

Nnenna Okoye

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Nnenna Okoye - BellaNaija - November2015Being a mom of three, I know how it feels to have a few stretch marks here and there. And although I’ve had days where I feel hopeless about them, I’ve learned to just manage and live with them.

Stretch marks seem to cause issues for many women out there for various reasons. But to live with them, what I think every woman should know is how they form, what causes them, and the different ways you can go about managing or getting rid of them.

Let’s begin!

What are they?
Stretch marks are long and narrow stripes or lines that are formed on your skin, that usually have a scar-like appearance. People can get them just about anywhere on their body, and a lot of women tend to get them on their stomachs during pregnancy.

What causes them?
To first understand how you can go about preventing or even getting rid of stretch marks, you should first know how they’re formed in the first place.

Basically, when the middle layer of your skin undergoes consistent stretching, those layers actually tear, creating a mark. When your skin lacks the elasticity to accommodate the strain of the stretching, that’s when the tear happens and becomes evident.

Using certain harsh chemicals can also cause problems. Any product that contains chemicals like steroids (Research shows that corticosteroid can weaken elastin fibers and break down skin collagen significantly) will increase your chances of getting stretch marks. So yes, this is why some people get stretch marks from using some bleaching creams.

Prevention
The good news is, stretch marks can be prevented, well at least most of the time. Although genetics has a lot to do with whether you’ll get stretch marks or not, you can do certain things to prevent them.

One thing you can try is keeping the area of skin at risk of getting stretch marks moisturized. There are so many natural ways to moisturize these areas that there’s really no excuse not to. You can use natural oils and butters like shea butter, coconut oil and even coconut butter. They offer natural and long-term moisture and work by increasing your skin’s elasticity to allow it stretch further without damaging it.

Although this is not guaranteed, it is worth a try.

Gaining weight too quickly during pregnancy can also contribute to you getting stretch marks. Now, I know pregnancy is not a time to diet, but please note that you can’t hide under the guise of ‘eating for two’ forever. I did that with my first pregnancy and I know how that affected me. Watch what you eat, be healthy and be active. Working towards distributing the weight gained over the span of the 9 months just might save you and I know it has worked for a number of people I know.

There are a few topical treatments for stretch marks, but you need to understand that topical treatments can, at best, provide some improvement – so don’t expect dramatic results or a miracle.

You want to treat newly formed stretch marks i.e: stretch marks that are relatively fresh (they’re usually pink or red) and not older than 6 weeks. The reason why is at the early stages, there is blood supply that can help with the effectiveness of topical treatments. But if the stretch marks turn darker or lighter, there is little you can do.

Treatment of stretch marks
Alpha Hydroxy Acids such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, malic acid etc can help with some improvement. Research shows that continued use of a gentle exfoliant can produce collagen production and thicken the dermis over time. And chemical exfoliation can help minimize the “appearance” of stretch marks.

Retinoids/VitaminA such as Tretinoin (Retin-A) can give some improvement. Why? Research shows that retinoids, which are prescription products, can promote collagen production along with other wonderful benefits to the skin. The higher the concentration the stronger it is, and the more potential to help prevent infections.

NOTE: DO NOT USE RETINOID/VITAMIN A IF YOU ARE PREGNANT! You can use it after you have your baby.

Laser use is tricky on dark skin. The wrong type of laser can cause discoloration and scarring on darker skin tones. One of the most frequently used lasers for stretch mark removal on dark skin is the Excimer Laser. This works by stimulating melanin production in light colored stretch marks so that they grow darker and match the skin around them.

***

I’m not going to lie, sometimes I still get upset that I have stretch  marks. But to be really honest they are a sign of something beautiful.

Whether you get stretch marks from pregnancy or something else, there’s no reason to be ashamed of them. Learning to accept them can actually improve your life and make you feel better! Be proud of your body, love yourself and enjoy life.

Share what you use to treat your stretch marks, how you’ve learned to accept them and how you feel about stretch marks in general.

My name is Nnenna Okoye and I am the editor of Youtopia Beauty. Welcome to my little spot on the internet! Needless to say, I am a beauty addict who loves trying out new products every now and then to satisfy my beauty appetite. I enjoy talking endlessly about fabulous beauty finds & tips! I am obsessed with skincaremakeup and I love shopping.My blog is the equivalent of that friend who always knows where to find the latest products and  which products actually work. This is me just trying to share my insider knowledge and tips with readers and writing my honest product reviews. My goal is to influence women everywhere on easy ways to boost not only their beauty but also their confidence. I promise to leave no stone unturned.

15 Comments

  1. Puzzles

    November 30, 2015 at 11:54 am

    When mum’s complaining about the stretch marks on her tummy and pointing out which one was as a result of having which one of her children (don’t know how she knows), I notice she does it with pride. I realized she believes we are worth the stretch marks.

    Looking forward to the time when i’ll be able to comment based on my experience of being a mother rather than on observing one……

    • Darlings skincare INTL

      November 9, 2016 at 6:49 pm

      well she’s totally right on all counts, stretch marks are nothing to by shy about, stretch marks are a thing of beauty to the African skin but most people get it even when they haven’t had a baby or gained weight recently, as a derma expert i tell our clients that stretch marks cant be cured but they can be minimized to a notch,but if you got it from cream then we can clear it only if you follow our lead, or any other skincare company wit experience can also do that and we definitely can.( Darlings skincare intl,)

  2. bruno

    November 30, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    everybody has stretch marks. men, women, teenage girls, teenage boys, even beyonce and jlo have stretch marks.

    ladies, guys don’t give a sh!t if u have stretch marks on ur butt or thighs, so dont be conscious when u are in bed with u boo. trust me, he isnt looking at ur stretch marks.

    if u try to do something to ur stretch marks, it will only become worse.u will waste ur money on creams and soaps and lotions that promise u results and u will get tired and frustrated and unhappy when u dont see any results. so just leave it the way they are. sometimes stretch marks fade on their own with time.

    and pls if u are bleaching pls stop,cause bleaching causes stretch marks.

    look at the stretch marks on the sides on ur butt as the icing on the cake. men love icing on their cake (if u know what I mean)

    • chomzy

      November 30, 2015 at 12:54 pm

      Thank u Bruno……

    • Oyal

      November 30, 2015 at 4:38 pm

      But for pregnant women, if your belly is itching you while you’re pregnant, just apply a mixture of raw shea or cocoa butter or both on your belly, it soothes and relieves the itching. Basically the belly expansion leads to itching and if you scratch it, you get stretch marks.

    • Oyal

      November 30, 2015 at 4:34 pm

      No need wasting money on expensive products that claim to eliminate stretch marks. I’ve come to realize that stretch marks cannot be eliminated, except you so surgery. You can only reduce the appearance. In the past, I foolishly wasted money on foreign products that never worked. Now I use shea butter from My Mom, and Cocoa Butter (the raw one) that I got from Estella’s Pride through a colleague. Stretch marks are still there, but the appearance has severely reduced, plus my skin is supple and very well moisturized. Point is, I’m no longer ashamed of my stretch marks. Many women focus too much on it.

    • Datruth

      November 30, 2015 at 6:33 pm

      As a man, I endorse this message.

  3. deedee

    November 30, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    Yeah,stretch marks can be depressing,but i have learnt to live with mine,i am so happy that 70% of my stretch marks are gone now. Shea butter and coconut oil are natural wonders on stretch marks prevention and management.Use it religiously for best results.

  4. Once pregnant

    November 30, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    Truth be said you can’t really get rid of them unless you find a cream to penetrate that middle layer of skin. At best you can improve its appearance. Ive also heard its sometimes caused by hormones (cortisone) so it makes it very difficult for you to do anything physically to stop them in the sense that it can affect everyone in varying degrees. I know of a friend that hardly creamed or drank water during her pregnancy and having literally nothing to complain about now! So don’t beat yourself up over it if you get them, its like trying to avoid grey hair. Some get it sooner, some get it later, all a part of life and not the be all and end all of beauty. Just cream with shea butter and drink water 🙂

  5. been there

    November 30, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    using moisturizers and bio oil when pregnant helps. also, i took kim kardashians advice to resist scratching ur belly so much in pregnancy. try to rub your belly instead of scratching vigourously. i know its hard to resist especially from 8 months when ur belly gets more itchy. i tried this and it worked for me.

  6. jess

    November 30, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    i got stretch marks from one cream. on my thigh. i was really depressed. spent so much money on it…..went thru stages at the dermatologist. bought ori, bought snake oil( made me smell like pig) but one day i packed all the local n expensive creams and threw all in the dustbin……….started working out, eating right, and right now i dont see it anymore…..its not visible atall….. i ve started wearing short dresses and skirts again and im confident n happy…

  7. Ezeani Chidera

    August 26, 2016 at 10:31 am

    I got stretch mark frm a cream i used and tried using natural remedies like ori and egg white but all to no avail,pls help me what should i do?

  8. Preshyp

    October 14, 2016 at 11:09 pm

    I have stretch mark on my thigh and small one on my tommy. I am scared of having more of it now dat am pregnant and I scratch my tommy when is scratching me. Please what do I do.

  9. Onyinyechi

    April 13, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    STRECH mark av makes me loose so many things on earth! I can’t wear short dresses I can’t wear slives, I am just frustrated pls frnds help me out

  10. Annie

    May 16, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    Few years ago I used a cream that gave me stretch marks on dome parts of my body. I tried so many things but non worked for me. I have learned to accept it and move on, though I was told to use bio oil consistently for 6months but haven’t tried it.

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