Are you not able to wear your favorite dress after motherhood?
Or you have recently shed some pounds and gotten an amazing body, but instead of being proud of it and flaunting it, you cover it up with layers of clothes.
Or you’ve become camera shy because of those “zebra stripes” called stretch marks on your body.
If yes, then you’re not the only one to whom mere mention of the words ‘stretch marks’ give jitters. There are a large number of people who have them and are finding ways to get rid of them.
In this article, we’ll try to answer a few questions related to stretch marks and also debunk some myths about them.
What Are Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks or striae or striae distensae are the stripes or streaks on the skin, especially on the abdomen, caused by the rapid stretching of the skin. When you grow or gain weight quickly (like during puberty), you can get fine lines on the body called stretch marks.
Although the skin is fairly elastic, but when it’s overstretched because of weight gain or loss, the normal production of collagen is disrupted. As a result, scars or stretch marks may form. They are caused by tearing of the dermis (middle layer of skin,) which might diminish over time, but will not fade completely.
These marks are also influenced by hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, puberty, hormone replacement therapy, bodybuilding etc.
During the last trimester of pregnancy, stretch marks usually appear on the belly, but can also appear on the thighs, hips, breasts, lower back and buttocks and are known as striae gravidarum.
You’re At A Risk Of Developing Stretch Marks If You:
- Are a female
- Are pregnant
- Have pale skin
- Are obese
- Use or have used corticosteroid medications
- Have a family history of stretch marks
- Have dramatic weight gain or loss
- Have Cushing’s syndrome
Causes And Types Of Stretch Marks:
• Stretch marks on arms and legs:
They’re a sign of muscle growth, when you’re weight lifting or bodybuilding. They’re not the nicest thing to look at, but they are like a badge of honor that you receive for putting in your precious time and dedication to the muscle game.
Also, if you grew very rapidly during puberty, your skin might stretch too fast and far, resulting in stretch marks on your arms and legs or even your sides.
• Stretch marks on breast:
They’re typically part of puberty. If you have them, then don’t panic because it’s pretty normal and you’re not alone, there are other girls also, who are also dealing with the same thing.
• Stretch marks on stomach:
Pregnancy is the only reason of getting stretch marks on the belly. During the pregnancy, a woman gains about 50-60 pounds and growing this fast, results in stretch marks on the stomach and breasts.
• Stretch marks on hips and thighs:
The dermis layer in your hips and thighs might overstretch during the weight gain and causes fibers to break. This will result in stretch marks in these areas, which are reddish in color when appear for the first time. These marks will turn into silvery white lines later and can be easily spotted.
Stretch marks on the calves can be seen in the individuals who have experienced weight fluctuation or rapid growth spurts, including pregnant women and adolescents.
Stretch marks appearing horizontally on the calves are most likely from height growth and the ones appearing vertically on the calves are most likely due to rapid weight gain, either from increased muscle size or fat in the lower legs.
If you are an athlete or do lower-leg and calf strength training, then you may witness stretch marks on your calves due to increased calf musculature.
How To Prevent Stretch Marks?
The only best way to reduce the possibility of getting stretch marks is to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. During pregnancy you’ll gain around 50 pounds over a brief period of 9 months. Consult your doctor to avoid gaining too much. This will not only minimize stretch marks but will also be healthy for you and your baby.
Natural remedies to remove stretch marks:
Getting rid of stretch marks is not easy, because they’re stubborn and will not fade away completely.
Here are a few inexpensive, but effective ways to get rid of stretch marks:
1. Olive oil is your skin’s best friend:
Olive oil is a popular remedy for stretch marks, especially pregnancy stretch marks because it contains a lot of antioxidants and nutrients that help in fighting various skin problems.
What You Have To Do:
- Take slightly warm extra-virgin olive oil
- Apply the oil on the affected area and massage gently
- Leave it for half an hour
- After that, take bath to remove excess oil
No doubt, olive oil is affective on those unwanted stretch marks, but you’ve to be patient because this process will test your patience.
2. Eggstraordinary white:
It sounds a little icky, but the amino acids and proteins in egg whites repairs skin tissues and help your skin to rejuvenate. Therefore, applying egg whites is considered to be an effective home remedy for stretch marks.
What You Have To Do:
- Whip 2 egg whites in a bowl
- Apply a thick layer of egg whites on the marks
- Let it dry completely
- Then, rinse with cold water
- Apply olive oil to moisturize the skin (optional)
Try this method daily for two weeks and watch your stretch marks fade away.
3. Potatoes to the rescue:
Potatoes contain minerals and vitamins that foster growth and restoration of skin cells. So, if you apply potato on stretch marks, it’ll make them less apparent.
What You Have To Do:
- Cut a potato into thick slices
- Take one slice and rub it on the stretch marks for a few minutes
- Allow it to dry for some time
- Wash it off with lukewarm water
Apply it twice a day for two weeks and see the results yourself.
4. Aloe Vera- The All Rounder:
Aloe Vera has anti-oxidants, nutrients, essential moisture and other powerful healing properties that can repair the damaged skin cells. Therefore it can help in lightening those stubborn stretch marks effectively.
What You Have To Do:
- Take a small slice of Aloe Vera and peel its skin with a knife
- Apply the gel that will come out of it on the affected skin
- Leave it for 15 minutes
- Then, rinse with lukewarm water
Aloe Vera is gentle enough to be used during or after pregnancy. Regular application of it on stretch marks will help you to rejuvenate and regenerate the skin, which in turn helps to lessen stretch marks on skin.
5. Castor Oil- A blessing for pregnant women:
Many gynecologists recommend castor oil to pregnant women at full term to be taken orally because it induces labor by pushing uterus contraction. Castor oil is worth a try when you want to get rid of pimples, fine lines, dark spots and want to reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
What You Have To Do:
The heat will allow the pores to open up and oil absorption will take place easily. Use this remedy for a month, only then you’ll be able to see the desired results.
8 Silly Myths About Stretch Marks:
1. Only women are affected by stretch marks:
No. Stretch marks are a supporter of gender equality and therefore can affect both men and women. Jokes apart.
As compared to women, men develop stretch marks less often, but they do. Why? Because women biologically store more fat than men and men tend to have more muscles.
For example: Body Builders and male athletes are prone to stretch marks due to severe stretching of the skin.
So basically, stretch marks apart from pregnancy can also appear due to growth spurts during puberty and sudden weight gain or loss.
2. I’m skinny, I’ll not get stretch marks:
No, a big NO. You and all the skinny people out there can get those unwanted stretch marks.
Why? Because, no matter if you’re skinny or overweight, you’ve to go through puberty and the rapid growth during it can give you stretch marks.
Also, if the skin itself is weak, then it’ll stretch easily and give you stretch marks.
3. Lose weight & Lose stretch marks:
Again, No. Losing weight is not a remedy for stretch marks. Just because obesity causes stretch marks doesn’t mean that they can be eliminated by losing weight.
Why? Because stretch marks are basically scars on the dermis (middle layer of skin.) They’re caused by the thinning or overstretching of this middle layer and losing weight will not help it return to normal.
4. Tanning can remove stretch marks:
(Like seriously. This is the PJ of the day.)
No, tanning doesn’t and can’t remove those zebra stripes.
Why? Because it just covers up the stretch marks. It doesn’t eradicate them. Sometimes, it can even make the stretch marks appear worse, especially if they’re white in color.
How? Mature white colored stretch marks will become more visible after tanning because it’ll darken the surrounding skin but not the stretch marks. As we’ve mentioned earlier, stretch marks are scars and scars don’t tan.
5. Permanent removal of stretch marks is possible:
No, not at all. Stretch marks are permanent. They can fade and lighten with certain stretch mark treatments and remedies, but they can’t be eliminated completely. Even if you’ve burnt a hole in your pocket by splurging on those expensive treatments, especially laser treatment.
Why? Because, applying certain creams can heal up the visible layer of the skin (epidermis,) but the scars will always stay there in the dermis. This is a good thing actually because you can’t see dermis at all and no one else can as well.
In some cases, stretch marks below the belly button can completely disappear when abdominoplasty is performed.
We hope that most of your queries are answered in this article and you’ll benefit from them. If some other home remedy has helped you to get rid of stretch marks, do share it with us.
You can also share your experiences of dealing with this nuisance in the comment section below.