Stretch marks or striae (singular stria), as they are called in dermatology, are a form of scarring on the skin with an off-color hue. They are caused by tearing of the dermis, which over time may diminish, but will not disappear completely.
Stretch marks are often the result of the rapid stretching of the skin associated with rapid growth or rapid weight changes. Stretch marks in most cases may also be influenced by hormonal changes associated with puberty, pregnancy, bodybuilding, hormone replacement therapy, etc.
Stretch marks formed during pregnancy, usually during the last trimester, and usually on the belly, but also commonly occurring on the breasts, thighs, hips, lower back and buttocks, are known as striae gravidarum.
Various treatments are available for the purpose of improving the appearance of existing stretch marks, including laser treatments, dermabrasion, and prescription retinoids. Some cream manufacturers claim the best results are achieved on recent stretch marks; however, few studies exist to support these claims.
A surgical procedure for removing lower abdominal stretch marks is the tummy tuck, or mommy makeover, which removes the skin below the navel where stretch marks frequently occur.
A new treatment, fractional laser resurfacing, offers a novel approach to treating stretch marks. Using scattered pulses of light only a fraction of the scar is zapped by the laser over the course of several treatments. This creates microscopic wounds. The body responds to each treatment by producing new collagen and epithelium. In a 2007 clinical trial, 5-6 treatments resulted in striae improving by as much as 75 percent.
1. Drink water: Drink eight to 10 glasses of water a day and you should notice a visible change in the sharpness of the stretch mark, which means their prominence on your skin will reduce.
2. Nutritious diet: Choose a balanced and nutritious diet that is rich in Vitamins C and E, zinc, silica and other nutrients to nourish your skin. Vitamin C, in particular, is essential for renewing connective tissue.
3. Lemon juice: Lemon juice is a natural acid that will bleach your stretch marks. Rub lemon juice on your stretch marks in circular motion. Let it stay on there for 10 minutes before you rinse it off.
4. Creams and moisturisers: Use creams and moisturizers that help to create skin elasticity. Lotions and creams work best for new stretch marks, but they can help a little with old ones.
6. Cream with retinoic acid cream is the latest in cream therapies. It works best on new stretch marks although topical tretinoin (prescription retinoid) is categorized by the FDA as a known teratogen (causing malformations in fetuses) and should not be used by women who are pregnant or might be pregnant. Retin-A is thought to boost collagen production, helping skin stretch out and avoid tears.
- Note that you should not use any products containing retinoic acid if you are pregnant or nursing. It can potentially cause birth defects in humans.
- Retin-A won’t be as effective on old stretch marks.
- You’ll probably need a prescription to get products such as Retin-A, Renova, Tazorac, and Differin (which all contain retinoic acid).
- Limit sun exposure of skin that you’re treating with Retin-A. It could be more susceptible to burning.
7. Glycolic acid used on stretch marks can increase collagen production, as making your skin more elastic overall. As an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), it’s in the same family of compounds used in chemical skin peels.
- Glycolic acid is safe to put on your skin during pregnancy.
- Take extra care to keep skin that you’re treating with glycolic acid out of the sun.
- Glycolic acid can be bought in over-the-counter. For a more intense treatment, you can get a stronger dose from a licensed dermatologist.
According to friends from Asia, egg oil, if used regularly from the first trimester, can prevent pregnancy related stretch marks from appearing. Gently massage egg oil over the entire abdomen including sides and lower abdomen down to the pubic area, twice a day starting from the 8th week of pregnancy until 6 months after delivery.
A method to produce egg oil is outlined here and shown to some extent in the video below.
Egg oil is actually free of egg protein and may be used safely by people who are allergic to eggs, for topical applications such as hair and skin care. The product has several historical references in Unani (Greek) medicine for hair care. Chinese traditional medicine uses egg oil for burns, eczema, dermatitis, mouth ulcers, skin ulcers, chapped nipples, tinea capitis, ringworm, nasal vestibulitis, frostbite and hemorrhoids!