Stretch marks are called striae in medical terminology. They are long and narrow stripes, streaks or lines that develop on the skin when it is unable to retain its normal form after being stretched or shrunken too quickly. This often happens due to weight gain, weight loss, puberty or due to pregnancy.
While stretch marks are not medically dangerous and don’t pose any serious long-term health risks, they can have a deep emotional and psychological impact on affected people. Although anyone can develop this disfiguring skin condition, it is more common among women. Over 50% of women experience stretch marks during or after their pregnancy.
These marks can be the cause of anxiety among many women affecting their day to day life. They even resort to various beauty treatments to get rid of them. However, the chemical-laden beauty treatments may come with their own sets of side-effects. In order to avoid the harmful side-effects, it is better to use effective home remedies.
How they occur?
When the body grows slowly, the connecting fibers in the dermis slowly stretch to accommodate slow growth. But when we gain weight rapidly, the dermis tears and the connective tissue is stretched beyond the limits of its elasticity, allowing deeper layers of skin to show through. This results in the formation of stretch marks. They are more likely to occur and become more severe where there are high levels of circulating cortisone, or when cortisone is applied to the skin.
Initially they develop as wrinkly, raised streaks that can be red, pink, purple, reddish-brown or dark brown, depending on your skin color. The streaks eventually fade and flatten and change to a silvery color over time.
Stretch marks can occur on different body parts including-
- Upper arms
- Lower back
Stretch marks can be easily diagnosed. The doctor will usually conduct a skin examination and question the patient regarding signs and symptoms. He may question if any medicines are currently being used or if there are any existing medical conditions.
Generally stretch marks are not harmful but in rare cases they may point towards an underlying medical condition that requires immediate treatment or monitoring.
How to prevent them?
There is no sure shot way to prevent stretch marks. However, steps can be taken to reduce and lighten them.
- Try to maintain a healthy weight by consuming a diet rich in leafy vegetables and fruits.
- Follow a balanced diet so that you get adequate amounts of Vitamin A, C, E and zinc. This which help in maintaining the flexibility of the skin.
- When you are pregnant, make it a point to drink at least six to eight glasses of water every day. This will increase skin’s elasticity and prevent stretch marks.
- Mix almond and coconut oil in equal quantities. Gently massage it on the stretch marks regularly.
- During pregnancy women feel the urge to scratch their stomach. Instead of scratching, rub lotion to get relief from itchiness.
- Aloe vera helps the skin tissue to regenerate. So take fresh aloe vera gel and massage onto the stretch marks. Leave it on for 20-30 minutes and then wash it off with warm water.
- Mix lemon and cucumber juice in equal parts and apply it on the area having stretch marks. Let it be on your skin for 10 minutes and then rinse it off using warm water. This will provide cool soothing effect and it will help in healing and reducing marks.
Do not expect that after using these remedies your stretch marks will disappear in a day or two. It will require time and patience. Follow the remedies religiously and you will notice the results.
Stretch marks can be ugly to look at but they are a common and pose no long-term health related risks. They can lower the self confidence of people. While it cannot be guaranteed that development of stretch marks can be prevented, there are certain remedies to reduce or lighten them.
Now that you know some easy to use home remedies to deal with stretch marks, start right away and notice the difference yourself.