Reprinted with the kind permission of Dr. Mercola
Numerous products and clinical procedures that center on the elimination of stretch marks have emerged in the market. The prices of these products range from affordable to costing thousands of dollars. But what exactly are stretch marks and why do they appear on your body?
What Causes Stretch Marks?
As their name implies, stretch marks are caused by the sudden stretching of the dermal layer of the skin, such as during pregnancy. They usually appear like small estuaries along the skin. These striations are also called stria or striae gravidarium.
Stretch marks are usually seen on your thighs, abdomen, buttocks and sometimes your shoulders. There are two factors as to why you get stretch marks:
• Physical Factors1
If you closely observe the physical manifestation of stretch marks, you will notice that they are usually seen in regions of the body that are known to be very susceptible to rapid increase in girth.
The dermal layer of the skin is stretched out, making it appear cracked and torn. This is why stretch marks appear during pregnancy. Stretch marks are usually caused by fluctuations in your weight. They’re also seen in people who work out, because of the development of muscle mass.
In pregnant women, stretch marks appear when you gain more weight than is typical. For this reason, many expectant moms usually consider reducing their food intake.
However, note that extreme dieting is not recommended when you are pregnant because it lead to nutritional deficiencies, and may endanger both you and your unborn baby’s safety.2
• Hormonal Factors3
Studies suggest that stretch marks can also occur because of hormonal changes. The hormonal imbalance that occurs during pregnancy and puberty alters the production of elastin and collagen, which causes your skin to lose its elasticity, allowing it to tear.
Stretch marks may also manifest during puberty and when growth spurts occur. The body is not accustomed to the fast transition of your height, and the skin gets stretched out more than it is accustomed to.4
Another lesser known risk factor of stretch marks is Cushing’s syndrome. Stretch marks are indicative of this syndrome because it causes the body to produce a higher amount of cortisol. Cushing’s syndrome causes weight gain and thinning of the skin, leading to the formation of reddish-purple stretch marks.5
There Are 2 Types of Stretch Marks
Stretch marks vary in color and appearance. However, they can be classified under two types:6
Red stretch marks (striae rubra) form because of the stretching of the dermal layer of the skin, allowing the blood vessels in the layer below to show through.
White stretch marks (striae alba) appear where the blood vessels have receded, showing the fat beneath the dermal layer. This explains their silvery white appearance.
Try These Natural Techniques to Help Reduce Stretch Marks
There are numerous stretch mark remedies in the market today, with some even claiming that they can make these marks disappear in a few days or weeks. The sad truth is that despite their high cost, many of these products are virtually worthless.
Stretch marks usually go away with time, but if you want to quicken the process, there are numerous natural ways to help you combat the sudden appearance of stretch marks:
• Use Natural Essential Oils
There are numerous available in the market that can help alleviate the appearance of stretch marks. These include lavender, sandalwood, frankincense and tangerine oils.7
Before using these oils, it is recommended that you dilute them in a safe carrier oil or edible oil, at a 2:1 ratio. Note that frankincense oil should not be used during pregnancy and when nursing because it may trigger menstruation and premature labor.8
• Rub Aloe Vera on Areas That Are Susceptible to Stretch Marks
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Aloe vera is famous for being a natural remedy for various skin problems because of its moisturizing, cooling and healing qualities. Aloe vera gel is well-known for its anti-inflammatory effects, and constantly using it might help make stretch marks less visible.9
If you’re planning to use aloe vera on your stretch marks, acquire the gel from fresh of aloe vera stalks and massage it onto the area where the marks are located. Do this twice a day and typically you’ll observe your stretch marks start to lighten.
• Use Lemon Juice
Lemon juice is famous for its bleaching and whitening properties, but it can also boost the amount of collagen the skin produces because of its high amounts of vitamin C.
Simply squeeze a large lemon and apply the juice to your stretch marks. Leave it on for about 15 to 20 minutes and then wash off with cold water.10
• Use Egg Whites
Egg whites contain protein and certain amino acids that can help your skin heal, lightening the appearance of stretch marks. Simply whip two egg whites to a paste-like consistency. Apply this paste to your stretch marks and let it dry. Wash it off with lukewarm water. Repeat once a week.11
How to Avoid Getting Stretch Marks in the First Place
Avoiding stretch marks is a matter of staying hydrated and keeping your skin moisturized. Here are some tips to help you keep your skin stretch mark-free:
• Drink Sufficient Amounts of Pure and Clean Water. Staying hydrated actually has a lot of positive effects on your body. It helps in the prevention of stretch marks as it provides the skin enough moisture to stop these marks from showing up when you gain weight or build muscles.12
It is a usual misconception that you should drinking exactly eight glasses of water daily. The amount of water intake actually varies from person to person. It depends on specific factors like the food you eat, how much you’ve perspired and how much liquid you’ve ingested throughout the day.13
To know if you’re dehydrated, I recommend that you use your urine to gauge if you’re drinking enough water. Take in consideration certain factors, including the amount, color and odor.
If you observe that you haven’t urinated in several hours, this may be an indication that you are not drinking enough water to flush out your body’s toxins.
• Apply Coconut Oil to Stretchmark-Prone Areas. Coconut oil is famous for its numerous uses. This all-around oil is famous for its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, and can be used as a makeup remover, facial cleanser, body scrub, deodorant and even as an ingredient in soaps. I personally use coconut oil every day in various ways.14
Coconut oil can also function as a moisturizer to help your skin stay moisturized, exfoliate the outer layer and give your skin extra elasticity. This will prevent the breaking of the dermal layer and the development of stretch marks.15
• Eat healthy. Nourishing your body with wholesome foods lets you maintain a healthy balance of vitamins and minerals. By eating a balanced diet, you’re also avoiding the fluctuations in your weight that can cause stretch marks. It helps you maintain a constant weight and prevents you from gaining fat, which usually causes stretch marks to form on your abdomen and thighs.16
• Avoid Alcohol. As much as possible, avoid excessive intake of alcohol. Alcohol is known to suck out the moisture from your body, which will make your skin drier than normal. This dryness will then increase the risk of stretch mark formation. 17
• Stock Up on Vitamin E. Vitamin E is famous for its role in maintaining skin health. It is also known to preserve the collagen found in the skin, which helps the skin to maintain its elasticity.18
• Exercise Regularly. Regular exercising will keep your skin taut and your weight in check, avoiding sudden weight gain or loss.19
These are only some of the ways to prevent stretch marks from forming. But before you stress out about them, know that it’s completely normal to have them at some point in your lives. It’s only the body’s way of adapting to physical changes. Stretch marks don’t alter the body’s composition and is nothing to be ashamed of.
Nevertheless, if they form excessively, then it might mean that you need to reevaluate your lifestyle, as you may be experiencing weight gain or loss. Feel free to try these natural solutions to help you bid those stretch marks goodbye!
Sources and References
1 Macgregor, Jennifer, Naissan Wesley, et al. Striae Distensae. Uptodate.com. December 29, 2015.
2 Stretch Marks in Pregnancy. NHS.uk. March 20, 2014.
3, 17, 18 Cenzon, Matthew. The 5 Most Common Causes of Stretch Marks. Symptomfind.com. September 6, 2011.
4 Can a Growth Spurt Cause Stretch Marks? Woundcaresociety.org. August 7, 2015.
5 Cushing’s Syndrome. NHS.uk. April 2, 2015
6 Everson, Kelly. How Do Red and White Stretch Marks Differ from Each Other? Consumerhealthdigest.com.
7, 12 Mercola, Joseph. The Top Five Essential Oils for Your Health. Mercola.com. March 13, 2004.
8 Frankincense Oil: The ‘King’ of Oils. Mercola.com. June 2, 2016.
9 Diaz, Margaux. How to Get Rid of Stretch Marks with Aloe Vera. Consumerhealthdigest.com.
10 Nair, Lakshmi Unny. 5 Best Home Remedies for Stretch Marks. Diyhealthremedies.com.
11 Saraswat, Kiri. Natural Beauty Tip #8 – Fade stretch marks away with egg white. Thehealthsite.com. January 5, 2015.
13 Mercola, Joseph. Are You Peeing Too Much? Mercola.com. May 14, 2016.
14 Mercola, Joseph. Countless Uses for Coconut Oil. Mercola.com. November 18, 2013.
15 How to Prevent Stretch Marks. Top10homeremedies.com. 2014.
16 Lowdon, Jacqui. How do you get rid of stretchmarks? Theguardian.com. October 8, 2006.
19 Everson, Kelly. Can Stretch Marks Go Away With Exercise? Consumerhealthdigest.com.
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