The Lowdown on Stretch Marks: Preventing and Getting Rid of Them
There are many exciting and frightening things that go through a woman’s mind when she finds out she is pregnant. Among these is often a worry about the changes that will occur in her body over the next 10 months (because let’s face it – pregnancy is closer to 10 months than it is to nine). In a culture where impossible beauty standards are worshiped, it can be mentally difficult for a new mother to adjust to the natural changes that occur with her body, including healthily gaining weight. Pregnancy is a beautiful process, but some mothers feel anything but beautiful when all is said and done. One of the reasons has to do with stretch marks. KAMO explores the causes and important information about preventing and getting rid of stretch marks every new mother should understand.
Causes of Stretch Marks
Stretch marks occur when the skin suddenly expands or contracts faster or farther than its elasticity will allow. The result is usually several (or more) parallel lines that appear on the skin. These lines may be purple, light gray, pink or another color depending on your skin tone and the severity of the stretch. Some are slightly indented into the skin and others feel itchy and sore.
It’s important to note that stretch makes can appear on anyone – not just pregnant women. Teenagers may get some if they have a sudden growth spurt. Men and women can get them if they gain a lot of weight. Some people in general are simply more susceptible to stretch marks than others:
- Individuals with pale skin
- Those with family history of stretch marks
- Pregnant women
- Women with history of having big or multiple babies
- People who use corticosteroids
- Individuals with significant weight gain or loss
Stretch Marks Fade, They Don’t Go Away
One of the most pressing questions new mothers have when those angry red or purple lines appears is how to get rid of them. Unfortunately, once a stretch mark leaves its mark, it doesn’t ever go away. There are no miracle creams that will take the marks away. However, it may comfort you to know that the marks do fade over time, and there are products you can use to help reduce their appearance as well as any itching or burning.
You can always talk to your doctor about any skin care options that are open to you. Your doctor is also likely to confirm with you that the stretch marks won’t go away, but he or she may have some recommendations on how to care for your skin and reduce their appearance.
Prevention Is the Best Medicine
If you absolutely want to do everything possible to stay away from stretch marks, then you need to start long before they appear. Taking care of your skin is vital to reducing your chances of developing these marks. Here are a few things you can do or use to give your skin a fighting chance:
- Stay Hydrated. Skin is more elastic when it is well hydrated. This means that you should not only drink 64 ounces or more of water per day, but you should also use a moisturizer once or twice a day. Don’t forget about sunscreen, as the sun can easily dry out your skin, particularly if you live in the desert.
- Use Coconut Oil. Pregnant mothers can apply coconut oil to their bellies every day to help nourish their skin. Coconut oil contains saturated fatty acids that don’t cause free radical damage to the skin. To reap the full benefits of using the oil, apply it immediately after showering.
- Get Plenty of Vitamins. Vitamin C not only boosts your immune system but also assists in the formation of cartilage and collagen and reduces free radical damage. Vitamin E helps to improve skin elasticity. Vitamin A fights signs of aging. You can get these vitamins through foods, supplements or topical products.
- Apply Stretch Mark Creams. There are many different stretch mark cream products available from a variety of manufacturers. Check the ingredients to make sure you are getting as all-natural of a product as possible. Products with the aforementioned ingredients should be beneficial in stretch mark prevention.
What You Can Do If You Still Get Stretch Marks
Sometimes even when you do everything possible to prevent them, stretch marks still appear. Although you may not be able to get rid of the stretch marks entirely, there are still ways to treat them to reduce their appearance and any irritation they produce.
- Aloe Vera: You might have used aloe vera in the past to treat sunburns. It contains soothing properties which could help with itchy or burning stretch marks. Apply aloe vera directly onto the skin and rinse off after 15 minutes.
- Lotions, Oils and Creams: Many of the lotions and creams used in stretch mark prevention can also be used to soothe the skin and reduce the appearance of the marks after they appear. Rubbing with castor oil, wrapping in a saran wrap and applying heat for 20 minutes is one popular method.
- Talk to Your Doctor: There may be laser and exfoliating treatments available to reduce the appearance of your stretch marks. You want to be careful not to further damage your skin, however. If you are struggling with the look of your stretch marks, you may wish to talk to your doctor or a dermatologist about your options.
Learning to Love Your Skin
Once your stretch marks appear, you may have different reactions to them. Some women miss the body they once had and do everything to hide these marks. Other women refer to them as their “tiger stripes,” their battle scars borne in love for each of their babies. How you feel about your marks is personal, and adjusting to your skin’s new normal may take some time. Remember that no matter how your stretch marks were acquired, you are not alone. Do what you can before they appear to minimize their effects later. For access to additional useful tips and products for pregnancy and babies, follow KAMO on Twitter @kamo_family, Instagram as kamofamily and Facebook.