In this article, you’ll know
What are stretch marks?
Why do they happen?
How to get rid of stretch marks?
Before we get to the science, the causes and the treatment let’s talk about one very important point.
A lot of people let stretch marks affect their confidence level or their emotional state of mind.
This is the issue that most human beings deal with.
Most importantly it’s important to know that these marks aren’t something that you should feel inferior or embarrassed about.
So instead of letting it affect your state of mind, your job right now is to just educate yourself about it and educate yourself about the science behind preventing stretch marks in the long term.
And how we gonna do that?
What are stretch marks?
The stretch marks are damaged marks or lesions on your body.
They appear in places that have slightly higher fat percentages such as your
- Chest area
- Abdomen area
They start with a red or purple colour and then transition into a white colour.
While it is in its red or purple form, stretch marks are treatable but that doesn’t mean that once they turn white they cant be treated.
The science behind stretch marks
Every single human being is prone to getting these marks and that’s why from a prevention perspective, you need to know the detailed science about stretch marks.
So firstly you have got to understand the structure of the skin.
It has got three primary layers
The epidermis is the outer layer of skin, its main job is protection from the external world.
The innermost layer, the hypodermis is responsible for insulation because it also contains the fat layer but the dermis, the middle layer is where this problem of stretch marks arises.
The main function of the dermis is giving structure to your skin and by structure, I am talking about two important factors which are
Pliability is the ability of your skin to stretch
Elasticity is the ability of your skin to retain its original shape.
So if I pull my skin up, when it goes back down pliability and elasticity are coming into play through the dermis.
Why do stretch marks happen?
To understand that you have got to understand the term fibroblasts.
It is a type of cell in the body and its an origin cell for the connective tissue in the body. Primarily we are talking about the connective tissue’s collagen and elastin fibres.
Collagen and elastin fibres help in giving the structure, elasticity and pliability to your skin but they originate from fibroblasts.
So you can think of fibroblasts as some kind of currency for connective tissue.
Say you have 100 rs and you can buy 200 toffees with those 100 rs similarly if you have 100 fibroblasts they will give rise to 200 units of collagen or 200 units of elastin fibres.
These marks affect some people more than they affect others and that’s because those people have a lesser degree of collagen and elastin fibres and that also means that they have a lesser degree of fibroblasts in their body. So the real reason these marks happen is because your body is producing fewer fibroblasts.
But what causes these fewer fibroblasts?
There are mainly two primary reasons.
Firstly, some people are genetically prone to having fewer fibroblasts than normal and that means they are also prone to having more stretch marks.
The second, more common reason is stress, be it mental stress or even physical stress through over-exercising. This results in the production of a hormone called cortisol.
It is known as the stress hormone. Its produced by our adrenaline gland when we are in a fight or flight mode.
Your body is going to react to that external situation by increasing its level of cortisol.
A higher degree of cortisol affects the formation of fibroblasts and lesser fibroblasts mean lesser collagen and elastin fibres which mean more stretch marks.
Causes of stretch marks
Rapid weight change
Usually, when you gain weight very fast your skin gets stretched more than expected and then it can’t retain its original shape. In this process the dermis gets damaged and that gives rise to a stretch mark.
If you are someone who is overweight and you try losing weight extremely rapidly, once again that rapid weight loss elevates your cortisol levels which makes your skin more prone to stretch marks and your skin can’t keep up with your rapid weight change again.
It is seen that about 55 to 90% of pregnant women get stretch marks.
In pregnancy, the stomach of a woman becomes much bigger than it used to be and cortisol level is also elevated during pregnancy so it gives rise to such marks in pregnant women.
Due to sudden growth spurt, teenagers may also notice stretch marks.
These are some of the medical condition which can cause stretch marks some of them are:
Some medication may make you more prone to these marks.
- Corticosteroid creams, pills, lotions
- Oral steroids
- Systemic (injectible) steroids
How to prevent stretch marks?
If you are someone who suffers from stretch marks, it means that your body is prone to getting them and that’s where these rules come into play.
Firstly keep yourself hydrated most of the times. When you are hydrated, your body produces more collagen than normal and that helps prevent stretch marks in the long term.
Foods rich in
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Zinc-rich foods
Are best for the prevention of stretch marks
A healthy way of gaining weight or losing weight
A healthy rate of weight gain is about 0.2-0.3 kgs per week and talking about weight loss, even if you are morbidly obese, you shouldn’t be losing more than 0.5 kgs a week.
Anything more than that is too rapid and it elevates your cortisol level.
Treatment of stretch marks
Now we will discuss what can we do once you have got the stretch marks.
These marks can be lightened or reduced with some simple, easy home remedies.
Massage with coconut and almond oil
Coconut oil and almond oil mixed in equal proportion together works wonders in lightening your stretch marks.
The fat of coconut oil is compatible with the fat of your skin layer. Hence, it effectively brings evenness to your skin. Coconut oil and almond oil, are natural skin healers and that effectively keep your skin moisturized.
Proper blood circulation is a natural healer. The more the blood supply to the affected area, the quicker is the healing.
If you find stretch marks on your abdomen, try ‘vipritkarni’.
To overcome the stretch marks on your thighs, try ‘utkatasana’ and ‘hastapadangushtasana’.
For upper body stretch marks do ‘Sarvangasana’.
All these asana improves the blood supply to the affected area and would help you to reduce the stretch marks.
Exfoliate with a sugar scrub
Sugar’s granules mildly exfoliate the dead skin cells found over stretch marks to create blood circulation which heals the broken cells. Sugar attracts moisture from the environment making it a hydrating and gentle scrub.
Mix sugar with olive oil and lemon juice to make a paste, rub this paste on the affected areas and keep it for 10 minutes then wash it out with warm water. This will remove the dead cells and will make your skin smooth and even.
Potato contains starch and other lightning enzymes, that’s why it is often used to remove the dark spots or dark circles around the eye and blemishes from the skin. It bleaches the skin and very effectively reduces the visibility of stretch marks if applied regularly.
Aloe vera is the go-to remedy for healing. The nutrients in its flesh help cure burns, scars and of course stretch marks by repairing the damaged skin cells.
Simple scrape the gel off its leaf and massage it into the stretch marks well. leave around for 10-15 minutes, and swab off with a warm water-soaked washcloth.
Do this daily for the best results.
Egg white mask
Eggs are all about protein and that’s great news for your stretch marks because the amino acids they contain, can heal the damaged skin.
Take two eggs and separate the whites from the yolk.
To boost the power of this mask, also puncture two tablets of vitamin E, and drizzle them onto your mixture. Vitamin E is included in all the readily available stretch mark creams due to its collagen-boosting ability that allows the skin to stretch and expand easily without tearing it.
Now lightly whip up the mix, till it forms a slightly foamy consistency and then uses a clean foundation brush to paint over the stretch marks.
Once the paste has dried completely, wipe it off with cold water.
Do this daily for better results.
While nothing can remove stretch marks 100%, considerably lightening them is a pretty good deal.
However, remember that it is an extremely superficial issue and it shouldn’t affect your emotional state of mind.
Your happiness should be dependent on your self-perception.
Stretch marks aren’t bad, it’s not even a health issue, so stop thinking that these marks are making you less of anything.