Stretch marks are a result of sudden weight gain. They appear as red, purple or pink linear streaks on the abdomen, buttocks, breasts, thighs and upper arms. When the body grows faster than the skin can keep up with, the elastic fibers under the skin surface rupture and this causes stretch marks.
Striae distensae is the medical name for stretch marks. They are extremely common, painless and are rarely a sign of a medical problem.
Causes of Stretch Marks
The major protein that makes up the connective tissues in human skin is called collagen. Overstretching of the skin disrupts and damages the normal production of collagen. This process then results in stretch marks. Stretch marks can appear on skin for many reasons.
- Pregnancy and stretch marks go together. The rapid weight gain coupled with many hormonal changes during pregnancy cause stretch marks. Stretch marks usually appear on the skin in the third trimester of pregnancy. At times they can occur in the later stages of second trimester as well.
- Weight gain during puberty is caused by hormonal changes and this often results in stretch marks in both girls and boys. Stretch marks on the arms are fairly common occurrence for weightlifters. Weight gain in obesity also results in stretch marks.
- Medical conditions such as Cushing’s syndrome, Marfan syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and adrenal gland diseases can lead to stretch marks on the body. Genetics also plays a role here. A woman whose mother has stretch marks is more likely to get stretch marks during pregnancy.
- Intake of oral or systemic steroids and use of medications such as Corticosteroid pills, creams and lotions can cause stretch marks.
Home remedies for Stretch Marks
Stretch marks usually fade over time and turn white or silver in color. However there are certain home remedies using safe ingredients that can help these marks lighten faster. Do note that home remedies are only effective when used over a period of time.
- Aloe Vera
The benefits of aloe vera for health and beauty are now well known. The gel from aloe plant can also help lighten stretch marks if used on a regular basis on the affected areas.
- Cut and remove gel from the aloe vera leaf and apply on the stretch marks. Wash off after a few hours.
- Mix fresh aloe gel with vitamin E and apply on the affected area. You can leave this overnight or wash off after a few hours.
- Lemon juice
The acidity in lemon juice helps lighten scars and marks and this can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks as well.
- Rub a lemon slice over stretch marks and wash off after 10 to 15 minutes.
- Mix lemon juice with cucumber juice or potato juice on the affected areas. Make sure that the skin soaks up the juices and wash them off with lukewarm water after a few minutes.
- Olive oil
Natural oils are excellent sources for treating many skin conditions. Olive oil is loaded with antioxidants and works very well in lightening stretch marks over a period of time.
- Apply olive oil on stretch marks and gently massage the area. Do this once or twice daily. Leave the oil overnight for the skin to soak up all its goodness.
- Mix olive oil with sugar and lemon juice and once the sugar dissolves, massage over stretch marks. let it remain on the skin for 15 minutes and then wash off with lukewarm water.
- Almond oil
Almond oil is an excellent source of Vitamin E and works wonders for skin health. Almond oil can also be used in combination with other oils for lightening stretch marks.
- Mix almond oil with lavender oil or chamomile oil and rub over the stretch marks. Do this twice a day. You can also leave it on the skin overnight.
- Daily massage with plain almond oil also helps with reducing the stretch marks.
- Other oils
There are many more oils that help in fading stretch marks over time.
- Massage affected areas with castor oil and keep it overnight. For more effective results apply some heat over it using a hot water bottle.
- Margosa oil or neem oil can help repair skin scars and work well on stretch marks.
- Egg whites
Full of Vitamin A and protein, egg whites can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
- Separate egg whites from yolk and apply the whites onto the affected areas.
- You can also make a mixture of egg whites, lemon juice and yogurt for your stretch marks. Protein in egg whites combined with skin-lightening properties of lemon juice and yogurt can lighten stretch marks.
- Cocoa butter
Cocoa butter when combined with some other ingredients can make excellent homemade creams to lighten stretch marks. The antioxidant and emollient properties of cocoa butter help repair the skin.
- Mix equal quantities of cocoa butter with shea butter. The latter is packed with fatty acids that aid in skin health. Add to this mixture a few drops of vitamin E oil or almond oil and store this in an airtight container. To apply, just take some amount onto your hands and when it melts a bit from your body temperature, apply it onto the stretch marks.
Dehydrated skin is a sign of unhealthy skin. No home remedies will work on the skin if your skin is not hydrated enough. Drink water as per your body requirements but at least 8 glasses are a must for overall good health and to keep the skin supple.
- For added benefit, mix juice from one lemon or cucumber with water and fill a bottle with this solution. Sip it throughout the day for good skin health.
The right nutrients derived from healthy and wholesome foods are a must for good health. The right food for good skin health can also aid in home remedies. Certain foods can help in reducing stretch marks and improve the skin texture.
- Eat foods such as Spinach and other leafy greens, citrus fruits, papaya, nuts like almonds, olive oil and wheat. All these are high in Vitamins E and C that aid in skin tissue growth.
- Eat protein-rich foods such as eggs, beans, legumes, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, almonds and yogurt.
- Flax seeds are good for collagen repair. Eat a spoonful after meals or add the seeds into your salads or cereal.
A good workout not only helps in weight management but improves skin health as well. Include some physical activity in your schedule for eliminating stretch marks and also keeping them at bay.
- Brisk walking or running in natural surroundings is always a good idea. The fresh air can further aid in keeping the skin healthy.
- Indulge in fun activities such as sports or hiking for an active lifestyle.
Is there any other reasons behind stretch marks except weight gain?