Stretch marks, also called striae distensae or striae gravidarum, look like indented streaks in your skin. They may be red, purple, or silver in appearance. Stretch marks most often appear on the:
They’re common in pregnancy, but anyone can develop stretch marks in any phase of life. Some people are more susceptible to them. If your mom, dad, grandparents, or other blood relative has stretch marks, you’re more likely to get them.
How do Stretch Marks Form In Pregnancy?
Stretch marks are the results of your body growing in size at a rate which the skin cannot keep up with, meaning it stretches beyond its limits of elasticity. They are scars which form deep within the skin layers and usually start out a purple color, eventually fading to a silvery/white color.
Stretch marks are harmless, but sometimes can cause discomfort as they occur, and some women may find that having stretch marks can affect their self-confidence. If you are feeling down about getting stretch marks during pregnancy, remember that it is perfectly normal, and you are among the majority. It will not affect your baby and will become less noticeable with time. They are a sign of the wonderful achievement your body has accomplished.
Control your weight
One of the most helpful things you can do to prevent stretch marks, whether you’re pregnant or not, is to maintain a healthy weight. Stretch marks can happen when your skin pulls apart quickly due to rapid weight gain. You may also notice stretch marks after rapid weight loss. Some people develop stretch marks during growth spurts, such as during puberty. Other people, like bodybuilders, notice them after big gains from working out or using steroids.
Working to control body changes from happening too quickly may be your best bet. Eat a healthy diet and exercise to help you manage your weight. If you do notice rapid weight gain or weight loss, it may be a good idea to visit your doctor to find out why.
Drinking enough water may help keep your skin hydrated and soft. Soft skin doesn’t tend to develop stretch marks as much as dry skin does. The Institute of Medicine’s current recommendations for daily water intake are 104 ounces for men and 72 ounces for women.
Drinking caffeinated beverages, like coffee, may actually increase your risk of developing stretch marks. If you drink coffee, make sure you’re balancing out your fluid intake with plenty of water, herbal tea, and other caffeine-free fluids.
Stretch marks may also occur if you lack nutrition in certain areas. Eating foods that boost skin health may help. Make sure your diet includes foods rich in:
- vitamin C
- vitamin D
- vitamin E
One way to make sure you’re getting a variety of nutrients is to choose unprocessed foods in various colors. For example, a breakfast of eggs, whole wheat toast, and mixed berries adds many colors to your plate while packing in a variety of nutrients.
Get Some Vitamin C & D
Collagen plays a role in keeping your skin strong and elastic. It helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles, but it may also be important for preventing stretch marks.
Vitamin C is an important nutrient for the development of collagen. Vitamin C can be found in many fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons, are especially good sources of vitamin C.
A study by Koehler Zanella et al. found a correlation between low levels of vitamin D and the occurrence of stretch marks. While this still requires more research, by including a healthy level of vitamin D in your system you may be able to reduce the formation of stretch marks.
The easiest way to get vitamin D into your body is by absorbing sunlight, but you should take care not to burn. You may also find your tolerance of the sun becomes lower because your body feels warmer. Some foods such as cereals, dairy, fish and some types of bread contain vitamin D to help with your intake.
Throughout your pregnancy, you can massage topical creams or oils into your higher risk areas. Many products can be bought which hydrate your skin and aid resilience and healing of skin tissues, and the massage will help your skin absorb them by stimulating blood flow.
You can use these products throughout your pregnancy, to prevent stretch marks from developing as this will be most effective. You can also use them on stretch marks when you first notice them appearing if you haven’t started already. The creams will have much better results the sooner you start using them.