Stretch marks, also called striae, are reddish, pink, or purple lines and streaks that appear on the skin due to hormonal changes and rapid weight loss or gain. They often appear on the belly, hips, breasts, and thighs. Stretch marks may be indented or have a different texture than the surrounding skin. Though they can be caused by certain diseases, stretch marks are most common in pregnant women, especially during the second half of pregnancy.
Why Do Stretch Marks Appear?
Stretch marks occur when the elastic fibers deep beneath the skin stretch too much too quickly, causing them to break, and the reddish lines appear under the skin’s surface. Hormonal changes within the body can also affect the skin’s elasticity and cause stretch marks. The good news is that stretch marks will heal somewhat on their own, fading or turning white. However, there are some things you can do to stop stretch marks before they appear.
What to Look for in a Stretch Mark Prevention Cream
If you’re worried about getting stretch marks during your pregnancy, you may be confused by the various creams and ointments available to help prevent them. Studies have shown that creams containing Gotu Kola extract, Vitamin E, and collagen-elastin complexes are better at reducing the appearance of stretch marks in pregnant women. Creams containing alpha-hydroxy acids can also help improve skin’s texture and appearance. Cocoa butter is also present in many creams, and has been proven to improve the elasticity of skin. Make sure you find a cream that has as many of these ingredients as possible to prevent stretch marks so that you can look forward to the birth of your baby without worrying about your skin.
When to Start Using Stretch Mark Prevention Cream
The best way to prevent stretch marks is to start early. Don’t wait until the marks appear, but begin using a topical cream in the first two trimesters of pregnancy when you are still growing. You want to rub the topical cream into your belly in a circular motion to massage the skin fibers. This will allow them to stretch more easily, rather than tearing. And don’t forget to rub cream into your thighs, hips, breasts, or any other part of your body where stretch marks might appear.
“Stretch marks – MayoClinic.com.” Mayo Clinic medical information and tools for healthy living – MayoClinic.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Aug. 2010. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stretch-marks/ds01081.
“Striae: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Aug. 2010. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003287.htm.
“Causes of Stretch Marks.” Skin Products | All Natural Skin Care Products | BIOCUTIS.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Aug. 2010. http://www.biocutis.com/stria-causes/.