The appearance of bands, stripes, or lines on the skin after rapid weight changes or rapid growth is called stretch marks. This often happens during puberty because of the growth spurt that occurs during this time. Stretch marks affect males and females alike. The appearance of stretch marks is also seen during pregnancy. These stripes result from the stretching and sometimes tearing of the skin with the loss of the skin’s vital elastic collagen. The usual site of the body for stretch marks are the buttocks, breasts, upper arms, abdomen, underarms, hips, and thighs.
Prevention of Stretch Marks:
- Avoid excessive weight gain. Take action before the weight gain becomes very obvious and unmanageable. Commit to a weight management program.
- If you are pregnant, have a skin care routine to minimize or prevent the loss of collagen.
- It is important to be well hydrated by drinking 6-8 glasses of water daily. The skin and vital organs need moisture to remain healthy.
- Use gentle soaps and bath gels with moisturizing agents. Hyper-allergenic products are for those who have sensitive skin.
- Try out skin care products with geranium, myrrh, frankincense, rose, lavender, and helichrysum.
- Eat 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
- Apply nourishing moisturizer if you are prone to have dry skin. In a hot, dry environment choose at least SPF 15 moisturizers that protect the skin from harmful UV radiation. Apply generous amounts of sunblock lotion on exposed areas of the skin.
To Reduce the Appearance of Stretch Marks:
- Apply a topical skin product with Vitamin C.
- Massage Vitamin E oil on the problematic areas.
- Over the counter (OTC) Retin-A has been effective in promoting collagen growth.
- Glycolic acid products are useful and safe for pregnant women.
- A combination of both Retin-A and Glycolic acid has also been used with success.
- For a quick fix, there are excellent cosmetic products which provide a great cover-up and camouflage.
Healthy Living Tips for Healthy Skin
- Improve your daily intake of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Include a supplement which contains Vitamins A, C and E, zinc and selenium.
- Engage in mild to moderate low impact exercise and resistance training. Be sure to consult with your doctor before starting any intense “boot camp” training camp which could result in rapid weight loss. Recommended rate of weight loss is 1-2 lbs. weekly.
- Avoid the abuse of steroids which promote rapid growth of muscle mass and can result in stretch marks (this is the experience of some body builders).
- Keep a positive body image and great self-esteem while you deal with the stretch marks as they do not define who you are. You may find counseling helpful to rebuild self-confidence. Try cosmetic creams to camouflage the stripes if you must. Do not give up the beach, pool, sporting activities and fashion that you love. Live in the moment and enjoy your life.