Uh oh! It finally happened! The scrawny red lines a.k.a. Stretch marks you’ve been dreading right from the start of your pregnancy have made their grand debut.
According to experts, stretch marks accompany more than 50% pregnancies. The medical terminology for stretch marks is Striae gravidarum. Stretch marks usually occur in the last trimester or in the early weeks after delivery. Common places are the abdomen, breasts, buttocks and the hips.
Here’s a look at the options to treat pregnancy stretch marks. Let’s also read about what causes them in the first place.
Causes Stretch Marks in Pregnancy
The primary cause of stretch marks is the excessive stretching of the skin. As your belly grows in size to accommodate your fast growing baby, the skin stretches too. Our skin is elastic, but pregnancy causes it to stretch beyond its normal capacity resulting in injury to the dermis, the second layer of skin. The tension splits the collagen bundles to produce fine reddish or purple scar lines. The color and appearance of the scars may vary based on the color and type of your skin. Within a few months of childbirth the stretch marks fade to a light whitish or silvery color.
For a lot of women the development of stretch marks is governed by their genes. Thus, if your mother suffered Striae gravidarum during her pregnancy, you will be more vulnerable to stretch marks.
Prevention is better than cure
The adage fits appropriately to this condition. So, what can you do to prevent stretch marks? Moisturize. Moisturize the skin at least three-four times day. Hydrated skin is more flexible and stretches easily. Choose lotions with Shea butter and Cocoa butter as their main ingredients. Drink plenty of water. It helps to naturally restore skin moisture.
Diet also plays a crucial role. Your diet should comprise of foods rich in Vitamin A, E, C, healthy protein and zinc and silica. They strengthen the skin structure. Avoid alcohol, smoking and excessive consumption of caffeine as it dehydrates the body.
Exercise is a must. It promotes blood circulation and helps maintain healthy skin. You may also want to watch your weight. Weight gain, too much and too rapid, does not give the skin sufficient time to stretch. Weight gain is inevitable during pregnancy, but gradual weight gain will restrict skin damage in the form of stretch marks to the minimum.
Tips to Get Rid of Stretch Marks
Stretch marks are more responsive to treatment in the early stages. Continue to moisturize the skin. There are several over-the-counter stretch mark removal creams. These creams contain ingredients such as lanolin, Vitamin C, peptides, glycolic acid, retinoid and wheat germ oil. The ingredients improve the appearance of stretch marks by boosting collagen production and repairing the collagen structure in the skin. Creams containing retinoids should not be used during pregnancy.
Like we already stated above, the success rate of stretch mark removal creams is not very high. The reason is the damage is not superficial but in the middle layer of the skin. The only other alternative is surgery. A dermatologist will recommend laser treatment.