Over half of all women end up getting stretch marks at some point in their lives. The truth is, they are common and don’t have any negative health effects associated with them.
However, it’s still easy to feel insecure about these marks.
So, what causes these stretch marks in the first place? And how can you treat them once you have them? Everything from what causes them, how to prevent them, and how to remove stretch marks is found in this guide. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
What is The Main Cause?
If your skin has been subjected to rapid changes by weight loss, weight gain, muscle building or pregnancy, it doesn’t have the ability to bounce back. Rather, it develops scarring known as stretch marks. They may begin as red or purple in color. Eventually, they may look like glossy skin streaked with white or silver.
Stretch marks are actually found in the middle skin layer or dermis. This is where the skin’s elasticity is located, and, where much of the time, your skin can retain its original shape. But if this layer is stressed or stretched consistently, it may break down, which leaves stretch marks behind.
Most people think of stretch marks like those found on the belly area after pregnancy, but you can actually get them in other areas, as well. This includes the lower back, upper arms, breasts, hips, thighs and other parts of the abdomen.
People who work out with weights may find stretch marks on their arms. The scarring of the skin causes the stretch marks that you can see. You may also see them in young people during the puberty phase of life when they may have rapid spurts of growth. But those stretch marks usually heal as the teen’s age.
Other stretch marks, like those left after pregnancy, need assistance to be removed in any successful manner. The amount of success you find will depend on your initial marks, as well as your skin tone, your diet, and your overall health.
What Do They Look Like?
Stretch marks come in many shapes and sizes, literally. You may have a friend who has skin-colored stretch marks along their hips. On the other hand, you may have dark red or purple stretch marks on your breasts. They’re all still stretch marks.
Newer stretch marks often appear in a red or purple hue and lighten over time. This isn’t true for everyone, however. Some are lucky to have stretch marks that are hard to see, while some must deal with dark marks that last.
If you have stretch marks, don’t worry! There are ways to treat them. Learning how to prevent them in the first place is the most important way to prevent them from returning.
Types of Stretch Marks
There are two main stretch mark classifications that you’ll usually find on your abdomen, hips, breasts, thighs, or buttocks! They are known as striae rubrae and striae albae.
What’s the difference between the two?
Striae rubrae marks are a pinkish, reddish color and resemble the beginning stages of overstretched skin. On the other hand, Striae albae are white and classified as being a more mature and chronic stage of stretch marks. Then there are classifications that go a little more in depth. Like we mentioned above there are several causes to stretch marks each one linked to a specific classification such as:
- Striae gravidarum – stretch marks caused by pregnancy.
- Striae nigrae – black or grey most often found on darker complexions.
- Striae caerulea – dark blue or purple stretch marks found in darker skin types.
- Striae atrophicans – thinned skin usually brought forward by surgery or a prolonged use of corticosteroids.
Whichever type you have, know that there are treatments and ways to lessen the appearance or get rid of them completely. Now let’s dive into some methods you can try to treat this condition.
Some products and methods used frequently
Prescriptions like Tretinoin cream may be used to remove stretch marks. Laser therapy may also be able to address them. You can also purchase products over the counter, although many of these are not as effective as one would like. Another product we reviewed is called Strivectin SD, read our Strivectin SD review.
Moisturizers are helpful in easing the itchiness of stretch marks, as well as toning down their appearance. You may also opt to use sunless tanning creams or sprays that mask stretch marks by making all your skin darker.
What are some of the most effective products?
Bio-Oil uses vitamins E and A, along with rosemary, lavender and calendula oils, to create a protective, non-greasy layer over your skin while it penetrates deeply to heal marks and scars. Vitamin A encourages the cell turnover rate to increase, which helps in smoothing out any stretch marks. This is a lightweight product, and it is easily absorbed by your skin, protecting it by keeping moisture in.
Clarins Stretch Mark Control is a thick, rich cream that includes olive and centela extracts that help avoid slackening of the skin. This is the process which occurs when your skin sags, creating stretch marks. Crowberry extract helps in maintaining tissue health, and in reducing the lighter pink color seen in stretch marks.
Palmer’s Massage Cream for Stretch Marks is a combination of elastin, collagen, vitamin E and cocoa butter. It’s cream that is not greasy, and it smooths your stretch marks while it lubricates your skin to help it maintain its natural elasticity, which eases the effects of stretch marks.
How do you apply these products?
Massage these products into the areas where your stretch marks occur. You can also do a simple massage of the areas with circular motions and even, soft pressure. This process, done a few times a day for a few minutes each time, will improve the circulation to the area, so that blood and nutrients will reach your stretch marks more readily, and work at healing them more quickly. Massage can also help in breaking up the bonds of scar tissue, which is what forms stretch marks.
What other products can help?
Aloe Vera gel can be rubbed on the areas of stretch marks. This ingredient has natural properties of healing, to help your skin to heal itself more effectively. Select only pure Aloe Vera, which has no dyes or fragrances. Other ingredients may be irritating if your skin is sensitive.
You may also use vitamin E directly on stretch marks. Puncture a capsule of this helpful vitamin and rub its oil on the areas where you have stretch marks. Vitamin E is important in the health of the skin, and it improves the skin’s elasticity. Using it regularly will help to heal stretch marks.
What other things can be used?
Eating a healthy diet with plenty of nutrients and vitamins can help your skin to lose some of the looks of stretch marks. If you don’t have proper nutrition, your skin cannot maintain or repair itself effectively. Eat fresh vegetables and fruits, as well as whole grains, on a regular basis. Also, a multi-vitamin will fill in any nutritional gaps left by your diet.
Along with maintaining a healthy diet, drink a lot of water every day. Aim to drink 6-8 glasses each day. Water is not only good for your skin and the prevention of stretch marks, but it benefits your overall health. Making this a part of your everyday routine offers so many benefits that go beyond glowing skin. You’ll feel the difference too!
Exfoliation can also help to erase the look of stretch marks. Use a body scrub that is very gentle, along with a loofah, to work at exfoliating the areas where you have stretch marks. Exfoliation will allow your skin cells to regenerate more quickly, to replace your stretched, damaged cells. Exfoliating a few times a week will help your body to create healthy, new skin more frequently.
Just like exfoliating the face and skin helps reduce the appearance of stretch marks, overdoing this process can be harmful. It can lead to redness, irritation, increased dryness of the skin, or even acne. If you notice some of these side effects, it may be a sign you are exfoliating too much.
Consequently, if you notice you’re exfoliating too much, do the following:
- Give your skin a break for a week. This will allow it to recover.
- After a week ease back into it but less than you were before.
- If you have sensitive skin, go with natural products.
Note that stretch marks are not dangerous physically. However, they often bring emotional damage like lowered self-esteem or anxiety. If this happens to be your case, or you just want to improve the appearance of your skin, use the treatments and advice offered above!
We hope you’ve gathered some good knowledge on how to remove stretch marks and prevent them. We’d love to hear your feedback down below. Share with us what has worked for you and what hasn’t. We all want to hear the good, bad, and ugly!
For any other questions, comments, or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out!