Stretch marks or striae are harmless indented streaks that appear on the skin. But, some people, especially women, get worried about their appearance. And, they begin to seek treatment. The treatment of stretch marks starts with knowing how to prevent their appearance.
Striae appear on different body parts like the arms, thighs, butts, shoulders, back, biceps, boobs, and stomach. Appearance on the boobs and stomach are commonly seen in females during pubertal development and pregnancy.
Furthermore, the streaks may be blue, pink, red, black, white, or purple in color. This color variation depends on where and why they appear. It also depends on how long you’ve had them on your skin.
Anyone can have stretch marks but a key and static factor that predisposes people to stretch marks is genetics. However, no matter the degree of predisposition, stretch marks can be prevented. And, I’ll be showing you different effective prevention strategies.
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How to Prevent Stretch Marks
Like I mentioned earlier, regardless of how much risk of getting striae you have, certain things can be done to prevent the outbreak. Also, these practices can help manage the appearance of existing stretch marks.
Follow these practices and see how they help you prevent striae outbreaks.
1. Watch Your Weight
This is the number one and most important method. Asides from genetic predisposition, another cause of stretch marks is rapid weight gain. This puts pressure on the dermis and your skin stretches.
Plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Scott Wells confirms that stretch marks appear as a result of weakness in the skin underneath the epidermis. This weight gain could be due to pubertal development, pregnancy, and too much consumption of calories.
Additionally, muscle gains from working out could cause your skin to stretch. Some of these causes are inevitable. However, you need to put in some work to burn out the fat.
Find out the source of your weight gain and tackle it. Reduce your daily workouts routine so the change doesn’t have a drastic effect on your body.
Watch your diet; cut off the excess calories and maintain a healthy weight to prevent stretch marks breakouts.
2. Stay Hydrated
Well-hydrated skin cuts down your degree of predisposition to getting stretch marks. That is to say, dry skins are more prone to stretch marks than soft, hydrated skins.
Skin hydration from within is best achieved by drinking sufficient water. Health experts recommend that we take at least eight glasses of water each day. And, you can also hydrate yourself by taking hot tea or lemon water.
Caffeinated beverages, coffee, for instance, increase your risk of getting stretch marks.
In addition, an alternative source of skin hydration is by using hydrating balms or moisturizing creams. Apply the balm to the stretch marks-prone areas of your body at least twice a day. For instance, your stomach, legs, thighs, back, arms, and butt.
These balms work to protect and increase your skin’s elasticity. So, during pregnancy when your skin expands, you can be sure that there will be no development of striae. However, to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy, use a hydrating balm product that is suitable for pregnant women.
SEE: Best Stretch Mark Creams That Work
3. Consume a Vitamin C Rich Diet
Vitamin C is essential for the synthesis of collagen, a body protein. Collagen is responsible for the firmness and elasticity of your skin. A supple and elastic skin keeps stretch marks at bay.
Vitamin C can be gotten from eating foods such as citrus fruits – oranges and lemons, and vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and tomatoes. Also, it acts as an antioxidant that fights off the damage of free radicals on your skin.
4. Soak up Some Vitamin D
The sun is the most direct and natural source of vitamin D. However, you should wear sunscreen to protect your skin from the damages of UV rays. Also, too frequent exposure to the sun’s rays could lead to skin breakouts, cancer, and premature aging.
Moreover, pregnant women should not be in the sun for too long. So, an alternative for them is to take vitamin D supplements. You can also eat foods like milk, bread, yogurt, and cereals that are rich in vitamin D.
5. Incorporate Zinc Into Your Diet
Zinc is a common ingredient in skincare products because of its great anti-inflammatory properties. Moreover, it aids the healing of wounds on the skin. Foods like nuts and fish are essential for healthy and supple skin. This helps to prevent the development of stretch marks.
6. Take Omega-3 Based Foods
Omega-3 fatty acid is one of the essential fatty acids the body needs. Without increasing your calories level, they supply your skin with nutrients. Also, they help to keep your skin looking supple and soft.
Fishes like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herrings are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. For vegetarians, omega-3 fatty acids can be obtained from chia seeds, flaxseed, soybeans, and walnuts.
Although prevention of stretch marks during pregnancy is almost impossible. However, with a doctor’s prescription, they can consume any of these foods in adequate quantities.
7. Avoid Taking Anabolic Steroids
These steroids are usually taken by athletes to speed up muscle mass buildup.
However, it could be the reason for the appearance of stretch marks, especially in men. It distorts the skin’s structure and makes you more prone to developing stretch marks.
SEE: Retinol for Skincare: Benefits, Side Effects, and Correct Application
8. Watch Your Use of Corticosteroids
Corticosteroids are a type of steroids used to treat rheumatologic diseases, skin inflammation, and irritation. Topical corticosteroids contain cortisone which weakens the skin’s collagen and thins out the skin. Consequently, this leads to stretch marks development.
Substitutes for these creams are anti-itch creams to take care of skin inflammations and irritations. However, if you’re using these steroids for rheumatic arthritis, see a doctor to recommend a cream that doesn’t contain cortisone.
In addition, if you must use them anyway, make sure you only use them for as long as necessary. And, when you are done, go back to using a cream that is not as harsh as these creams.
9. Exercise Regularly
Tedious exercises for muscle buildup are responsible for the tears on the skin that result in stretch marks. So, to make up for it, you should reduce your level of exercise. This exercise will help stimulate and increase blood flow which is very vital for skin repair.
Moreover, regular exercise can help you lose weight that could cause stretch marks. It also helps to regulate subsequent weight gain. Besides, it is a good way to keep track of one’s overall health.
10. Quit Smoking
Lifestyle practices like smoking can predispose you to stretch marks. Cigarettes contain nicotine which can damage the collagen and elastin fibers in your skin. As a result, your skin becomes dry and loses its elasticity and strength.
The inhaled fumes reduce the flow of blood to your skin and this causes oxygen deprivation. And, if blood flow is reduced, nutrients will not circulate your body. Consequently, your skin is exposed to the damages of free radicals.
11. Treat Streaks as They Appear
A cosmetic dermatologist, Dr. Michele Green says, “It is recommended that stretch mark treatment begins at the initial onset when the likelihood of successful stretch mark removal is much higher”.
Rather than waiting to treat them in bulk, start with as little as they appear. It is better to treat the little, less severe appearances before they progress. You can get OTC stretch mark creams and oils.
SEE: Practical Ways to Have Clear Skin [Expert Guide]
Also, consult a doctor to discuss your skin concerns and get a treatment prescription to tackle the underlying cause of the stretch marks.
Risk Factors for Stretch Marks
There is no specific population that will develop stretch marks on their skin. Anyone can have stretch marks. And, this can happen due to several factors. They include:
Children inherit genes and traits from their parents. In the same vein, stretch marks are also inherited from parents. This is the strongest and one of the most common predicting factors of developing striae.
Being a female
Research shows that about 50-90% of females develop stretch marks on their bodies. This can either happen during puberty or pregnancy. Pubertal growth spurts come with a rapid weight gain as body parts develop and enlarge.
During pregnancy, an overproduction of cortisone and estrogen can cause stretch marks. And, as the baby develops, the skin over the stomach expands, and the resulting tears from red streaks.
These tears could be due to multiple pregnancies, teenage pregnancy, excessive weight gain, carrying an overweight baby, and pre-pregnancy BMI.
Males are the largest population of people who are predisposed to this factor. The strenuous activities of bodybuilding during teenage years and older can put pressure on the dermis.
The pressure causes a thinning of the skin and consequently, red indented streaks appear on the arms, thighs, back, and biceps.
Cosmetic surgical procedures like boobs augmentation can result in the appearance of stretch marks on the boob area. This happens when the tissue implants placed under your skin make your skin stretch. The streaks may also appear on other body parts.
Other surgical procedures that can cause stretch marks include the insertion of tissue expanders in other body parts, organ transplants, and cardiac surgeries.
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Health conditions like Cushing’s, Marfan, and Ehlers-Danlos syndromes can predispose the patients to stretch marks appearance. The patients experience excess and abnormal weight gain, body growth and development, and sometimes stretchy skin.
A person with a condition like anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder associated with drastic weight loss, can also develop stretch marks. In addition, chronic liver disease causes stretch marks to appear on the abdomen.
The development of striae is a side effect of using corticosteroids during chemotherapy or for the treatment of any other disease. Other medications include contraceptives and antipsychotic medications.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does moisturizing prevent stretch marks?
Yes, it does. Moisturizers hydrate your skin and keep it supple. The soothing effect can help reduce the itching that comes with the onset of stretch marks. Your skin needs moisture to retain its elasticity and prevent the development of striae.
So, get a moisturizer and that’s gentle on your skin and helps to lock in moisture. When you apply, massage it into your skin in circular motions to stimulate blood flow to the stretch mark-prone body parts.
2. Can I prevent stretch marks during pregnancy?
Yes, you can. Although factors like genetics, carrying an overweight baby, and having multiple pregnancies may make it difficult; it is not totally impossible.
What you need to do is take your essential vitamins, drink a lot of water, and make sure your weight gain is healthy. Most importantly, massage your skin (especially the tummy area) with hydrating balms, moisturizers, or oils to prevent the appearance of stretch marks.
3. Do stretch marks ever fade?
In some cases, stretch marks eventually fade away on their own. And, this happens whether or not you use treatments. On the other hand, they may fade into less noticeable scars or stop expanding. But, it could take a while for any of these to happen.
However, if you’ll rather opt for a treatment option for faster results, you can use topical creams like cocoa butter or bio-oil.
Stretch marks are rather cosmetic concerns instead of medical conditions. Though they sometimes appear due to certain health conditions, they are benign. It is possible to prevent their appearances with proper lifestyle and health practices.
With striae development, prevention is indeed better than cure. The skin’s elastic nature requires that you keep it hydrated and supple to avoid dryness that can cause tears. Eat a diet that contains all the vitamins and minerals required for proper blood flow.
Additionally, you should use appropriate topical creams to moisturize your skin and keep these streaks at bay. Otherwise, you may just be exposing yourself to other skin outbreaks.
Above all, these practices will properly synergize when you’re psychologically stable. It starts with loving your skin and showering it with TLC.
Thanks for reading.
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