pregnancy, stretch marks, pregnant, prevent Stretchmarks, Stretchmarks during pregnancy

Mom’s Guide To Stretch Marks During Pregnancy

Mom’s Guide To Stretch Marks During Pregnancy

Stretch marks are the elongated, narrow, and straightened stripes that occur due to stretching of the skin. In that particular area, elastin and collagen fibers, that support our skin, rip off, usually when someone undergoes an abrupt transition or during pregnancy. As the skin tends to heal, it results in a scar. Anyone can get stretch marks, but female, in general, is more prone to get affected by that, especially pregnant women. It can show its occurrence in a wide variety of body parts, including the breast, thighs, butt, abdomen, hips, and the lower back. Stretch marks can appear at any point of your time of pregnancy, especially during the last trimester. 

It can also take place when you’re undergoing a period of growth, during the adolescent age, to attain puberty. In certain cases, sometimes genetic factors can also result in disfiguration. Also, excessive weight gain or rapid loss of weight can result in the intending of the skin. In a nutshell, it is influenced by the hormonal changes in our bodies.

Stretch marks might not be pleasant to look at as per the "set beauty standards", but they don’t pose any damaging effect on the body. They are a natural phenomenon. Usually, they tend to be off-white color, but their color can also range from reddish, reddish-brown, dark brown, purple, or pink depending on various factors. In very few cases, stretch marks are known to face completely. Normally, some trace of it will remain even after enough care.

What are stretch marks?

Stretch marks, also known as striae, striae atrophicans, striae gravidarum, or striae distensae are a form of disfigured lesions or scarring on the skin. They are differentiated according to appearance, such as:

  • striae atrophicans (thinned skin)
  • striae distensae (extended skin)
  • striae gravidarum (post-pregnancy)
  • striae rubrae (red)
  • striae albae (white)
  • striae nigra (black)
  • striae caerulea (dark blue)

What causes stretch marks

As already mentioned, stretch marks tend to happen when there is extreme stretching or shrinkage of the skin which tends to damage the deeper layer of the skin, the Dermis. Dermis lies within Epidermis and is the middle layer of the skin. When its connective tissue fibers get stretched beyond their elasticity limit, atrophic lesions or scars form.

Usually, when our body grows, the elastic tissues in the dermis slowly extend to accommodate slow growth. But when the rapid growth of the tissues occurs due to some expansion or contraction, the Dermis layer rips off, causing the inner layers to show through. 

So, what are the factors that make the tissues expand? 

Here are a few causes that will predispose the skin to the development of stretch marks.

1. Puberty

During puberty, young girls undergo many hormonal changes in their body, and often the imbalance in the hormone level results in the formation of Striae.

2. Excessive weight gain or rapid weight loss

Both of these factors contribute to causing stretch marks, by exerting a force on the tissues. 

3. Prolonged use of topical or systemic Glucocorticoid drugs

Prolonged use of corticosteroid creams and lotions) results in the loss of collagen (supports and fortifies our skin) and spikes the chances for stretch marks formation. Also, an increase in the level of Cortisone in the body results in scars. Even people who take other steroids and medications like birth control pills are prone to hormonal alterations in their bodies, leading to the formation of these marks.

4. Medical syndromes

Certain medical conditions like Marfan syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and Cushing’s syndrome results in the loss of elasticity and makes the skin easily crumpled, resulting in the appearance of stretch marks.

5. Genetic factors

If your parents had stretch marks, then most likely you’ll develop them too. The reason for this is that you’ll inherit a trait that results in a lack of skin elasticity in the connective tissue.

6. Hormonal levels

High levels of testosterone make the body resistant to stretch marks, and hence almost 90% of men are unbothered by it. Testosterone maintains the skin’s hydration level by increasing oil production. This in turn upholds the skin’s collagen production cycle, resulting in increased elasticity and lower susceptibility to the striae.

7. Pregnancy

About 8 in every 10 pregnant women get susceptible to stretch marks, either during pregnancy or post-pregnancy. This is the most widely distributed cause of the predisposition of stretch marks. 

Preventing stretch marks. What can you do?

Stretch marks never disappear completely, but you can take certain steps and necessary precautions to avoid or eradicate stretch marks up to a certain extent. Following are a few ways that have helped some women in the reduction of stretch marks:

Stretch marks Oils, Lotions, Gels, or Butters

In the market, there is a variety of anti-stretch marks creams and lotions available that are targeted to treat the mark issues to some extent. Slather on the lotion during the earlier stages of pregnancy, massage it well and apply it consistently for weeks. Also, it helps to be regular as soon as you notice the onset of stretch marks on your skin. These creams and oils might be helpful to prevent stretch to some extent with their antioxidant abilities, and ingredients that promote collagen synthesis and improve blood circulation to the skin. Please read the ingredients and labels carefully to understand how they work, and choose wisely.

Homemade remedies

Homemade remedies like coffee scrub, almond oil, cocoa butter, olive oil, or Vitamin E have made no known difference on stretch marks when applied liberally. However medical studies claimed that products like Centella (herb), Tretinoin (a form of retinol), and Hyaluronic acid can make your stretch marks less noticeable by applying them regularly.

It is further recommended to keep the body and skin hydrated and nourished naturally by consuming enough fluids. Also, having a nutrient-rich diet that benefits the skin, in general, may help. The specific nutrients to look for skin health are Vitamin C, D, E, zinc, and protein.

Also, there are medical procedures that can fade the appearance of marks over time, such as Chemical peel, Laser therapy, Ultrasound, Microdermabrasion, and Radiofrequency. These procedures should be undertaken only by expert hands.

Apart from this, maintaining a balanced weight during pregnancy or in general always helps. Furthermore, losing and gaining weight slowly are ways in which you can avoid getting stretch marks. You may work with your fitness trainer to lose weight slowly post-pregnancy.

Summary

To summarise it in general, stretch marks are something that does not harm our bodies and pose no health risks. And also, it is very common and targets almost every woman of shape, size, and color. One shouldn’t be ashamed of having stretch marks. They’re natural and from models to top celebrities, almost everybody gets them. Especially for pregnant women, it should be a source of pride as it reminds you of your newborn baby. We all should embrace it beautifully, and shouldn’t feel insecure or ugly for having them. Don’t let the set standards of the fashion and the beauty industry dictate your meaning of beauty.

On a purely objective level, women are enigmatic, gorgeous, incredibly strong, and precious life-creating seeds. Nobody should or can shatter the confidence of women for some beautifully etched marks in our body.


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Hi, I am Ekta Dharap, a mom of a tiny tod. I have learnt that to take optimum care of your little one, it's imperative to first take care of your own wellness and well-being. Besides, our children look up to us, and how we treat ourselves. This makes putting self care as top priority, without an ounce of guilt.

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