Stretch marks are very common among women, while men are also capable of developing stretch marks (a.k.a. striae). Stretch marks are widely associated with pregnancy, and are created when your body experiences hormonal changes due to puberty or menopause; you can also develop striae when you’re losing or gaining weight.
Going further, the reason these annoying lesions appear on your skin is due to the breakdown of collagen and damaged elastic fibers below the epidermis layer of your skin. Now that we’ve covered the basic causes of stretch marks, let’s move a little deeper into the subject and also talk about how you can treat them.
Causes of Stretch MarksCommon reasons why stretch marks form are due to:
- losing weight too quickly,
- gaining weight rapidly,
- hormonal imbalances/changes,
- growth spurts,
The areas of the body that are most affected by stretch marks include the thighs, abdomen, arms, hips, breasts, back, buttocks and the area around belly button. When striae firsts begins to form, it usually appears red, and then turns white over time.
Treating Stretch MarksThere are topical creams, ointments, and oils that claim to remove stretch marks or reduce their appearance; however, these products can cost quite a bit, and hardly deliver on the promises. There are also laser treatments available, but this too is very expensive.
Because stretch marks are scars, there is little chance of getting rid of them completely. So you should avoid wasting money on products that claim to eradicate stretch marks completely, and have realistic expectations when it comes to topical treatments. Using topical treatments requires discipline, and they may even need to be applied more than once a day. But they do have the potential to improve stretch marks’ appearance.
Treating only the symptoms associated with stretch marks or scars will not help lessen the appearance of striae. Furthermore, dry skin can sometimes appear around area of stretch marks; however, dry skin isn’t the cause of stretch marks. It’s also worth mentioning that moisture is good for your skin, but it won’t make a dent in the removal of stretch marks since the marks start deep within the skin’s layers.
Dermabrasion, or laser treatments for stretch marks, only affects the surface of the skin. This is not enough to penetrate deep into the dermis, where the tears have formed in elastic fibers. These treatments may be able to improve the appearance of stretch marks, but the side effects are redness (erythema) and/or scaling on the skin.
One stretch mark treatment that’s overlooked is eating better/keeping a healthy lifestyle. It’s never too late to begin a healthy lifestyle, and there are hundreds of benefits to eating better, including keeping stretch marks at a minimum.
Along with a healthy diet, you should be drinking plenty of water. Keeping your body hydrated will allow your body to function properly, meaning your skin cells are more likely rebuild areas that need repaired. The minimum amount of water needed to stay hydrated is five to eight 8 oz. glasses a day. An easy way to maintain a healthy diet is to eat one cup of fruit or vegetables with a glass of water before each meal. This helps reassure that you are getting healthy nutrients into your body while staying fully hydrated.
Be sure to supply your body with plenty of vitamin A, C and E, as well as zinc since these nutrients help your skin flourish. You’ll be able to find these vitamins and minerals in raw fruits and vegetables, in addition to fish liver oils, leafy greens, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds and fish. By adding more of these things to your diet, you’ll increase your skin’s ability to heal itself.
In some cases, if you’re taking medication such as oral contraceptives, you could be lacking essential nutrients needed to keep your body healthy; consult your doctor about any concerns here. Physicians will be able to prescribe or suggest dietary supplements to counterbalance the nutrients you may be losing to the medications.
Home Remedies to Remove & Treat Stretch MarksHomemade stretch mark creams can be used to treat scars, and are also great for other areas of your body that need special attention. You can use these recipes to make extra hydrating lotions that can be applied to stretch marks, dry elbows, knees, hands and/or feet.
Cocoa Butter and Oil Cream / Stretch Marks, Home RemedyOne of the most effective ingredients in improving the appearance of skin is cocoa butter. This is the main ingredient in the following skin cream for treating stretch marks. Using this homemade cocoa butter and oil skin cream will make your skin moist, soft and supple. Here is what you’ll need to make the cocoa butter and oil stretch mark cream:
- 1/2 cup cocoa butter
- 1 Tablespoon wheat germ oil
- 1 Teaspoon apricot kernel oil
- 1 Teaspoon Vitamin E oil
- 2 Teaspoons grated beeswax
Olive Oil and Aloe Vera / Stretch Marks, Home RemedyOlive oil shows up in almost every beauty remedy recipe because it’s loaded with moisturizing nutrients perfect for conditioning skin and hair. To use olive oil as a stretch mark treatment, simply pour the oil onto a cotton pad, and pat the oil onto your stretch marks. To make this treatment even more nourishing, follow these instructions:
- 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup aloe vera gel
- 6 vitamin E capsules
- 4 vitamin A capsules
Blend the mixture well with a whisk, or by using a blender. This treatment can be applied to any area on your body where you have stretch marks such as the stomach, legs, arms, thighs or breasts.
Use olive oil in combination with aloe vera gel to treat your stretch marks. Aloe vera has been used widely to treat burns, but also provides positive results when used to treat stretch marks. Combine a small amount of aloe vera gel with an equal amount of olive oil, and continue to massage the mixture onto stretch marks. To get even more use out of aloe vera gel, use this recipe to prevent more stretch marks from occurring, and treat the ones that have already formed.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup aloe vera gel
- 4 vitamin E capsules
- 2 vitamin A capsules
Vitamin C and Sugar / Home Remedy for Stretch MarksUse natural white sugar to exfoliate the problem areas of your skin for 3-5 minutes daily. This will remove the dead skin cells, and encourage more skin cells to develop.
This works best if you exfoliate while in the shower. When you’ve finished your shower, take two vitamin C tablets and crush them as finely as you can. Use a small mixing bowl to combine your daily moisturizing lotion and the vitamin C tablets together. Apply the lotion and vitamin C mixture as usual, focusing mostly on your stretch marks. Now saturate a cotton pad or ball with olive oil, and dab onto your stretch marks.
By using this treatment and the previously mentioned ones, you’ll go a long way towards reducing the appearance of stretch marks
Read more: Stretch Marks: Home Remedies to Remove & Reduce Stretch Marks