Stretch marks are tears in the supporting layers of tissue under your skin. They’re popularly called tiger stripes, warrior marks, and all sorts of self-affirming names. However, not many women are pleased with having stretch marks and if you fall into that category, then how to prevent stretch marks is something you may have wondered about.
Before delving into the ways you can prevent stretch marks, it’s important to know what causes them. Of course, we’ve already established that when the skin is pulled tight to the limit, stretch marks occur, now we’ll be exploring what causes the skin to pull tight to its limit.
What are the causes of stretch marks?
- Rapid weight gain/loss: Anyone who is on a weight loss/gain journey — who loses or gains weight fast — would almost notice these marks on their skin.
- Puberty: Kids tend to sprout really fast during this phase of life and it’s reaffirming to let them know that it’s normal to spot a few stretch marks during puberty which could likely fade as they grow.
- Pregnancy: Over 50% of pregnant women have stretch marks for obvious reasons. This usually occurs in areas prone to rapid weight gain at these times, ranging from the stomach to the breasts, hips, etc.
- Genetics: They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. If a family member has stretch marks, you may be prone to having those warrior marks as well. The good news is: this can be avoided. If genetics loads the gun, your lifestyle has to pull the trigger.
Other factors include the use of steroids and medical conditions. Although stretch marks are very common, they are not necessarily evil, especially for pregnant women who need their bodies to expand to make room for the little human they’re helping create.
Having said that, stretch marks are preventable. Even if you’re at risk of having them, there are ways to prevent their occurrence. Your best bet is to keep your skin well hydrated and moisturized at all times so it can maintain/improve its natural elasticity.
Here’re effective tips on how to prevent stretch marks and also keep your skin supple…
#1. Get some Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays an essential role in overall healthy skin. A 2015 study found a relationship between low levels of vitamin D and the occurrence of stretch marks. Although more research is required, the results suggest that maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D could reduce your risk of stretch marks. Need some Vitamin D? Then go under the sun but ensure not to exceed beyond noon to reduce the risk of getting cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM).
#2. Limit or avoid steroid creams
Steroid creams or corticosteroids, which usually contain cortisone, could weaken the skin’s collagen and result in stretch marks. But ensure to consult your doctor before discontinuing them. If you have to use creams containing cortisone, it is best to use them only for as long as necessary before switching to a milder cream.
#3. Be in control of your weight
The major cause of stretch marks is the sudden stretching of your skin due to rapid weight gain/loss. A good workout routine will help manage your weight. Exercise has been proven to keep a person’s weight in check, ultimately helping to prevent stretch marks.
Of course, several other factors could cause rapid weight gain like thyroid malfunctions. So if after frequent exercise and eating healthily, you find you’re still gaining weight uncontrollably, see a doctor to rule out any health issues. Controlling your body from changing rapidly is a sure way of preventing the tiger stripes from creeping up on you.
#4. Use argan oil
Argan oil is rich in Vitamin E and is 100 percent natural, making it very safe. Studies have shown that using argan oil has helped increase skin elasticity. It has also been proven that the oil not only prevents stretch marks but also fades out already existing ones because of its high fatty acids content. Whether consumed or applied topically, argan oil is safe to use long-term.
#5. Consider topical creams
There has been uncertainty hovering around stretch mark creams but researchers have found that creams containing Centella certainly prevent stretch marks. They also help lighten scars if tiger stripes are already present. Also, moisturizers help reduce the itching that results from skin stretch during pregnancy. It’s advised to consult your dermatologist for a prescription and/or to confirm the safety of any product you wish to apply on your skin because some products could cause more harm than good.
By the way, Shea Butter is a great natural cream that helps with preventing warrior marks during pregnancy. Start using it on your belly as soon as you become pregnant or once your pregnancy starts showing.
#6. Maintain a healthy diet
Drinking lots of water keeps the stretch marks away as it gives you well-hydrated skin. So ditch the carbonated and caffeinated drinks and replace them with water. Yes, H2O for coffee, boring much? According to The Cleveland Clinic, “beverages with caffeine will actually increase your risk for stretch marks.“
Also, consuming foods like sardines, soybeans, and chia seeds that are rich in omega-3 has been found to prevent stretch marks. Vitamin C also plays a vital role in the development of collagen which is essential for skin strength and elasticity. It not only prevents stretch marks but also reduces the appearance of wrinkles. It can be found in many fruits and vegetables but most especially in citrus fruits like oranges.
#7. Complement your diet with supplements
Sometimes our meals are not enough to meet our body’s daily requirements of vitamins and minerals and that’s why supplements are recommended. Vitamin D, E, and C supplements are primarily needed by the body as they help to regulate the growth of new skin cells, work as antioxidants to fight free radicals released in the body when the skin is exposed to the sun, and produce elastin and collagen. These ultimately help improve skin elasticity, holding in moisture, and stretch marks are held at bay.
#8. Use sugar, topically
Sugar is a humectant and as such preserves moisture in the skin especially when used as a scrub. It is not harsh on the skin as compared to its other counterpart (Salt). Sugar is also a source of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) which rejuvenates the skin, making you look younger.
Massage in a circular motion until the sugar is absorbed into your skin. Repeating this process regularly has been found to reduce the chances of getting those tiger stripes and aid blood circulation.
It is good to note that stretch marks are not detrimental to your health and aren’t something to be ashamed of. Yet we must admit that prevention is better than cure.
Featured image: LanaStock/iStock
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A creative writer with a voracious appetite for fashion, beauty, lifestyle and culture. As one who's passionate about the advancement of the woman, creating content that inspire smart style and living, and positive lifestyle changes is a calling I take seriously. At Style Rave, we aim to inspire our readers by providing engaging content to not just entertain but to inform and empower you as you ASPIRE to become more stylish, live smarter and be healthier. Follow us on Instagram @StyleRave_ ♥