Stretch Marks

stretch marksCan stretch marks be prevented – or eliminated after the birth? Seeks out new treatments for this pesky problem

Between the extremes of Old Wives’ Tales and ‘scienti c breakthroughs’ there does seem to be a very wide gap. So what’s the truth about stretchmarks? Are they a fact of life (and pregnancy), is there anything
you can do to lessen their appearance and can they even be prevented? B examines what’s available both to help prevent them during pregnancy and to treat them once you have given birth.

What are they?

Stretch marks are called striae by doctors or striae gravidarum if they occur during pregnancy. Though many people develop them during puberty and during times of rapid weight gain, those that appear during pregnancy can be quite startling, often looking red and angry on your once-smooth tummy. As well as the tummy, you may get them on your hips, thighs and upper arms and when you begin to breastfeed, on your breasts too.

They may start off as quite a strident red or even purple colour when they rst appear if you have pale skin or they can be lighter than your skin tone if you have black skin – but be reassured that they gradually fade until they are white and almost unnoticeable. However, the slightly bumpy appearance of the skin will not go away, as they middle layer of skin (dermis) has stretched so far that it has torn slightly.

Who gets them?

There seems to be no rhyme or reason to who gets them and is often down to luck. However, if your mother had them, you are more likely to and if you gain weight too quickly, they are also more likely. Try to ensure that your pregnancy weight gain is gradual and managed.

Warning signs

There are some stretch marks that are not due to pregnancy or weight gain but to a condition called Cushing’s syndrome or Marfam syndrome which can be as a result of having previously used powerful steroid creams. You should see your doctor if this may be the case.

Preventing Stretch Marks

There are many products available to pregnant women that claim to help reduce or prevent stretch marks. Though they may not prevent them 100 percent, keeping your bump moisturised while it grows and using the massaging motions of applying the cream may help your skin feel less tight and itchy and may help to prevent it stretching too fast, too soon. Try products that feel nourishing and moisturising and use plenty of them! Here are some of the best.

If you want stretch mark treatments to use in pregnancy, see our picks here

If you want stretch mark treatments to use after your baby is born, see our picks here

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