Some mothers happily display them as a "red badge of motherhood." Some
mothers are distressed by seeing them.
Let’s talk about stretch marks and what you can do about them!
Stretch marks, also called striae distensae or striae gravidarum,
are thin, streak-like lines that may appear on the skin's
surface. Based on the skin tone, they may be pink, red, purple, or brown.
They affect about 9 out of every 10 mothers.
Stretch marks are most often seen on the:
False! Stretch marks develop most commonly during
pregnancy, but they can appear at any age or time.
Stretch marks on your belly (or elsewhere) are most likely to appear at the
end of the second trimester and into the beginning of the third trimester
when you're between 6 and 7 months pregnant.
Why do they happen?
Stretch marks are basically a scar that develops after your skin
Pinkish lines appear as collagen and elastin (the fibers that hold
the skin stretchable) loosen and break as skin is stretched due to the body
expanding quickly. The lines that appear are the scars that
develop known as “stretch marks”.
Some experts believe that hormones in pregnancy
contribute to developing stretch marks. Increased hormones lead to more
water in the skin. This causes the bonds between collagen fibers to relax
and makes the skin easier to tear when stretched and thus from “stretch
TRUE! Some women are more vulnerable to them than
others. You are more likely to get stretch marks if your mother, father,
grandparents, or another blood relative has them.
Aside from genetics other factors influencing the risk of stretch
Amount and rate of weight gain during pregnancy
Increased weight prior to pregnancy
Need for corticosteroid in pregnancy
Stretch marks go through a life cycle.
They are initially red, purple, and brilliantly lit. Stretch marks are
known as striae rubra at this point of their life cycle.
They are easier to handle at this point. This offers you
more options for treating them.
As stretch marks evolve, they get paler, almost silvery-white in
appearance. At this stage, they are referred to as striae
alba. They are much more difficult to manage
after they have passed the alba stage.
When stretch marks are new, you have the greatest chance of
reducing their emergence. Scars that have faded to white are challenging to
Let’s take a look at what you can do about stretch marks.
Collagen helps to keep the skin tight and elastic. It not only
tends to reduce the emergence of lines, but it can also be beneficial in
avoiding stretch marks. Vitamin E and C, zinc and
silica, help to form collagen. Vitamin C, in
particular, is a necessary nutrient for the formation of collagen. Most
fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C. Citrus fruits, such as oranges and
lemons, are exceptionally high in vitamin C.
Exercise can help avoid stretch marks in addition to boosting energy
levels, minimizing mood swings, changing sleep habits, and improving
overall self-image. Exercise increases airflow, which leaves the skin
elastic and capable of stretching as it expands.
Massage and moisturize
It won't hurt to massage stretch mark oil or cream onto your belly, hips,
and thighs. What should you use?
Cocoa butter/ vitamin E/ Olive oil
- You may have received advice to use one of these. Studies have not shown
these to be helpful for stretch marks but there is no harm to use them, in
fact they can be moisturizing and decrease the itching you may feel with
Herb Centella or hyaluronic acid -
Some research indicates that daily massage onto stretch marks may aid in
decreasing appearance when used early.
Prescription creams with Tretinoin
- Several studies have shown that if started early and used daily this
cream can decrease stretch marks. However, you can’t use retinoids at all
if you’re still pregnant because they can lead to birth defects. Talk to
your healthcare provider about use during pregnancy.
Drink A Lot of Water
With a moisturizing balm, you can hydrate your skin from the outside, but
what about the inside? Yes, we're all about drinking a lot of water!
Staying hydrated allows the whole body to function correctly, including
your skin. Drinking lots of water assists the skin cells in performing
well, repairing themselves, and preventing or recovering from stretch
If topical therapies aren't improving the stretch marks, booking a series
of pulsed dye laser treatments is a smart alternative,
even if you're breastfeeding. But it could cost you: Based on where you
live, a single procedure will cost anything from $350 to $1,000.
Microneedling is another option that uses radiofrequency
to lessen further the severity of skin conditions, including acne and
stretch marks. Compared to laser treatment, micro-needling usually provides
a shorter healing time and may be less likely to cause skin
Remember that there is always an alternative: embrace them! They are a
symbol of what you have gone through with pregnancy and delivery.
MaternalWell text support is available for any general questions!