As its name suggests, stretch marks are streaks that form when skin is stretched or swells and shrinks in a relatively short period of time. They can appear on both men and women on areas like the upper arms, chest, belly, buttocks, and upper thighs. They can also vary in hue, appearing in colors like red or purple and later fading into white or silver depending on skin color.
Stretch marks are extremely common and considered more a burden than a health issue. Still, despite their prevalence, we’re often left wondering why these marks appear and if it’s even possible to prevent or eliminate them.
Why Do Stretch Marks Form?
Your skin has an amazing capability to expand and stretch; this is all thanks to a protein called collagen. As the most abundant protein in our bodies, collagen is what helps give the skin structure and elasticity. However, when the skin faces an abrupt change in size, as with puberty or pregnancy, your skin’s collagen production can’t keep up. This causes collagen to break down, gradually causing stretch marks.
While stretch marks can slightly fade over time, some scars are more stubborn than others. There are measures you can take, however, to help speed up healing or delay their development.
How To Treat Existing Stretch Marks
Avoid scratching them. Scratching stretch marks can further irritate your already delicate skin and likewise worsen scarring. (Tip: If you feel the urge to itch, try using a soft towel with a soothing body oil or cream and delicately rub the area in a circular motion.)
Treat them in their early stages. It’s important to act as soon as you see signs of stretch marks to avoid scarring. In their early stages, skin can feel slightly itchy and lightly colored stripes may start to appear. As they progress, they’ll become darker and more texturized. Moisturizing is essential during these stages, which brings us to our next suggestion.
Keep the affected area moisturized. Use a Nourishing Cream with ingredients like almond oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil, which helps stimulate collagen production. A study found that the topical application of avocado oil increased collagen synthesis while decreasing the numbers of inflammatory cells.
If you’re living with stretch marks, these are easy steps you can take to slowly help your skin heal. Is it possible, though, to prevent stretch marks from forming at all?
Can You Prevent Stretch Marks?
Every skin is different and stretch marks can form for a variety of reasons. But simple measures can be taken in your day-to-day life that can help strengthen this vital organ.
Maintain a well-balanced diet. Your skin also needs nourishment from within. A well-balanced diet is key to help your skin function properly. We highlight the importance of nutrition for skin in our Natural Skincare blog.
Moisturize every day, especially if you’re prone to having dry skin. Moisturizing your skin daily is necessary to help your skin retain elasticity and sufficient moisture that can be lost throughout the day. It’s especially important if you have dry skin. Dry skin is less elastic than other skin types, which can heighten the appearance of stretch marks.
Use a soap that won’t dry out your skin. Opt for a natural soap with plenty of vegetable oils, butters, and other moisturizing ingredients as a source of added hydration for your skin.
Stretch marks can be unexpected but with the proper care you can learn to successfully cope with them.