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.
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.
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.