Skin Health

How To Fight Stretch Marks

Stretch marks appear on men and women of all ages, sizes, and skin types. They do not cause pain or health problems, but some people are bothered by their appearance. People often wonder how to prevent stretch marks from forming.

Skin can stretch to accommodate size changes, including those due to weight fluctuations, puberty, muscle gain, and pregnancy. If the skin stretches too quickly, the collagen and elastic tissues in the skin may break, resulting in stretch marks.

Stretch marks typically first appear as red, pink, or purple lines. Over time, the blood vessels heal, and the lines often fade and become less noticeable. However, they may not disappear entirely.

According to some estimates, up to 80 percent of the population get stretch marks. They are particularly common during and after pregnancy due to the rapid changes in the body.

Teenagers who experience fast growth and body changes during puberty may also develop stretch marks. Some people who gain muscle quickly, such as weightlifters, may get stretch marks on their arms, shoulders, and legs.

How to prevent stretch marks

While there is no way to guarantee that a person will not develop stretch marks, the following tips may help reduce the likelihood:

1. Eat omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids help the skin stay supple. Many cold-water fish contain omega-3, including:

  • salmon
  • herring
  • mackerel
  • sardines

Vegetarian sources of omega-3 include:

  • chia seeds
  • flaxseed
  • walnuts
  • algae
  • soybeans

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 8 ounces (oz) of seafood per week. Pregnant women should talk with a doctor to confirm how much fish it is safe for them to eat. They should also avoid fish that is high in mercury.

2. Get vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for healthy skin. A person can often get vitamin D from sun exposure.

However, too much sun exposure also raises the risk of skin aging and cancer. The Skin Cancer Foundation state that eating fortified foods and taking supplements when necessary is a safe way to get vitamin D without exposing skin to the sun.

3. Gain a healthy amount of weight during pregnancy

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend 25–35 pounds (lb) of total weight gain for pregnant women who are already at a healthy weight.

Women who are overweight before pregnancy should gain 15–25 lb, while underweight women should gain up to 40 lb.

Pregnant women should talk to their doctor about how much weight to gain during pregnancy because underlying health conditions can also affect the range.

4. Use a moisturizer

There are no creams or oils proven to prevent stretch marks. However, keeping the skin supple may be helpful for reducing the risk in some people.

Moisturizers can often help reduce itching that happens as the skin stretches. One reviewfound that creams and oils may also help prevent stretch marks, but more recent research is necessary to confirm this.

5. Avoid anabolic steroid usage

Anabolic steroids weaken the skin’s structure, so people who use them, such as some athletes, may be more prone to stretch marks.

Anabolic steroids are not the same as corticosteroids, which are medications that people use to treat asthma, allergies, lupus, arthritis, and many other conditions.

6. Limit or avoid steroid creams for itching

Steroid creams or corticosteroids, which usually contain cortisone, may weaken skin’s collagen and result in stretch marks. However, people concerned about this should speak to a doctor before discontinuing them.

People can try anti-itch creams that do not contain cortisone for minor bug bites and rashes. They can also ask a doctor about nonsteroidal creams for conditions such as eczema.

If a person must use creams containing cortisone, it is best to use them only for as long as necessary before switching to a milder cream.

7. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables

Researchers have not been able to prove that any specific vitamins prevent stretch marks, but evidence shows that skin needs a variety of nutrients, including vitamins A, C, E, and zinc, to stay healthy. Fruits and vegetables are rich in these and other vitamins and minerals.




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