You may not know this but stretch marks are very common in the human body. Stretch marks are a harmless and passive scarring which shows up on the skin. These marks are of a pale color and happen as a result of the stretching of the skin. They are long, narrow streaks, stripes or lines that develop on the skin.
Stretch marks usually become apparent post a pregnancy, or even just constantly losing or gaining weight. These marks are commonly found on the thighs, stomach, breasts, buttocks, and arms. Situations such as weight change, bodybuilding, and hormonal changes cause the skin to expand rapidly causing a tear in the dermis layer (middle layer) of skin. This condition usually starts showing itself with reddish or purplish marks or discolorations which appear on the areas where the skin is getting stretched. It’s estimated that 90% of women who are or have been pregnant, 70% of adolescent females, and 40% of adolescent males have stretch marks.
The Difference Between Red Stretch Marks And White Stretch Marks
Red stretch marks:
These are the very first signs of the stretching of the skin. They are fresh and mark the beginning of the actual stretch marks. This type of scarring shows the blood vessels through and hence has the reddish color. Since they are still in the growth phase, they are at an ideal stage for treatment. They can be healed by using topical creams that can help restore the collagen in the skin. Laser treatments such as the ‘pulsed dye’ work effectively and help in renewing skin cells and reducing the scars.
Other options to lighten red stretch marks include light-based laser treatments like Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), which can reduce some of the redness in the skin. Pulsed Dye Laser (PDL) and fractional laser resurfacing are additional options but remember: most doctors do not feel that that lasers can prevent or fully eliminate stretch marks, but rather only make them marginally less obvious.
White stretch marks:
These scars form as a result of a long period of the particular part of the skin stretching. They are white-ish or silver-ish marks which are old and have been on your body for some time. They cannot be cured by any creams. Treatments such as ‘Microdermabrasion’ can help to improve the texture and give your skin a polished look. However, this treatment will not help in restoring the collagen in the skin. There is another type of treatment for white stretch marks called ‘excimer laser’ which also helps in reviving the color. Results will vary from person to person.
Is it possible to get rid of stretch marks?
Stretch marks are not linked to any particular ethnicity: all races can be affected. Stretch marks aren’t something that just come and go. As it is a widely afflicting condition, there is no shortage of demand for products to treat them—but what really works? The truth is that there is no treatment that can make stretch marks disappear completely. However, here are some ways that can help minimize appearance of stretch marks and, perhaps, help them fade away over a period of time.
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is thought to be useful in fading stretch marks. Vitamin is referred to as a retinoid. Retinoids make skin appear more smooth and youthful. They are used in many over-the-counter topical cosmetic creams. Simply using a topical extract of vitamin A, or taking vitamin A orally, can contribute to your skin’s health and overall appearance. One study in particular identified retinoids as helping the appearance of stretch marks. A diet rich in certain foods, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, might also help you increase your vitamin A levels.
Some people swear by sugar as a homeopathic microdermabrasion method. Microdermabrasion performed by a dermatologist is one of the few clinically proven methods to make stretch marks fade. So this home remedy seems worth a try. Rubbing a sugar scrub on the skin will exfoliate the area. Mix one cup sugar with 1/4 cup of a softening agent, like almond oil or coconut oil, before mixing to the consistency of wet beach sand. Add some lemon juice. Scrub the mixture on the part of your body where the stretch marks are. Repeat several times a week while in the shower, making sure to rub the mixture on for 8-10 minutes.
3. Aloe vera
Aloe vera stands best in reducing the stretch marks and enhances the skin’s elasticity by providing essential moisture. Aloe vera has nearly 200 active enzymes, 75 nutrients, 18 amino acids, 20 minerals and 12 vitamins. Regular application of aloe vera helps to repair the damaged collagen fibers of the dermis and reduces the appearance of stretch marks. Squeeze an aloe vera leaf to extract its gel freshly. Apply this gel directly on the stretch marks and massage it gently for the gel to get absorbed well into the skin. Let it sit for few minutes to overnight and rinse off with water.
Continue doing the same process regularly for 2-3 times daily until the stretch marks are faded.
4. Coconut oil
Since stretch marks are scarring from skin damage, coconut oil might help heal the appearance quickly. Coconut oil has been studied for its healing properties and found to reduce the time it takes for skin wounds to heal. The oil gets absorbed deep into the skin very quickly. Plus, it has many antioxidants that fight free radicals and will nourish the damaged skin. To prevent stretch marks coconut oil can be used internally and externally and it has no harmful or discomforting side effects. To prevent stretch marks during pregnancy, expectant mother should gently rub coconut oil around their two to three times daily. Using coconut oil for stretch marks during pregnancy is completely safe for both the mother and the baby. The unique properties of coconut oil will help heal, soothe, clarify and moisturize the skin during your pregnancy. Once the baby is born you can notice very little or no stretch marks at all.
5. Pulsed-dye laser
Pulsed-dye laser therapy responds best to newly formed stretch marks because it aims to correct, and improve the blood vessels responsible for circulating oxygenated blood supply to the location of stretch marks. It’s best to use this therapy on newer stretch marks. When there is better oxygen consumption and blood circulation in the area, the condition of dermal connective tissues is enhanced, leading to improved collagen synthesis. Darker-skinned individuals, however, may experience skin discoloration.
Microdermabrasion involves polishing the skin with tiny crystals to reveal new skin that’s under the more elastic stretch marks. Microdermabrasion can improve the appearance of older stretch marks.
7. Massage therapy
The claims of massage therapy as a treatment for stretch marks are often from those doing the massaging. Unfortunately, no amount of massage will improve the torn, broken elastin under skin. It’s just not the way the body works, and there is no clinical research demonstrating the improvement of stretch marks from massage therapy (Swedish or otherwise.) Also, massaging the abdominal area during pregnancy can have its own risks if too much pressure is used. If you’re pregnant and considering massage, be sure to speak with your doctor about what type is most appropriate.
8. Hyaluronic acid
Collagen is the protein in your skin that allows it to keep its shape and appear healthy. As we age, collagen decreases in our face and our bodies. Collagen production can be stimulated with hyaluronic acid, an extract available in health food stores and online. Hyaluronic acid can be absorbed by consuming a commercially available capsule or extract. Hyaluronic Acid has been clinically shown to increase the moisture content of the skin, keeping skin supple and elastic.
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