- Stretch marks are most commonly caused by rapid body changes that suddenly stretches the skin, like pregnancy or rapid weight gain.
- While prevention may be difficult, most stretch marks eventually fade and become less noticeable over time.
- Maintaining a healthy weight, staying hydrated, eating a healthy diet, and early treatment may help reduce its appearance.
Stretch marks, scientifically known as striae distensae or striae gravidarum, appear as indented streaks on your skin. They may appear red, purple, or silver in color. They most often appear on the stomach, bottom, thighs, chest, and hips.
They most commonly develop during pregnancy, but anyone can develop them in any phase of life.
The following factors may increase your likelihood of developing stretch marks:
- a family history of stretch marks
- rapid weight gain or weight loss
- breast augmentation
- certain genetic disorders, such as Cushing’s syndrome or Marfan syndrome
You can reduce your risk by following these healthy habits:
1. Maintain a healthy weight
Rapid weight gain, weight loss, or growth spurts can cause the skin to pull apart quickly, leading to stretch marks.
Maintain a healthy weight to help control body changes from happening too quickly.
2. Stay hydrated
Soft, hydrated skin is less likely to develop stretch marks. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking the recommended daily water intake: 104 ounces for men and 72 ounces for women.
If you regularly drink caffeinated drinks, balance out your fluid intake by drinking more water, herbal tea, or other caffeine-free fluids.
3. Maintain a nutrient-rich diet
Nutrient deficiencies can contribute to poor skin health.
Fill up your diet with foods rich in vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, zinc, and protein — nutrients that help boost skin health. Opt for unprocessed foods as much as possible.
4. Load up on vitamin C
Vitamin C plays a vital role for the development of collagen, which helps keep your skin strong and elastic. Load up on vegetables and fruits, particularly citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons.
5. Soak up some vitamin D
Research suggests that low levels of vitamin D increases the likelihood of stretch marks.
Soak up some sunshine to get your daily dose of vitamin D. You can also get it from fortified foods such as bread, cereal, and dairy products like milk or yogurt.
6. Eat zinc-rich foods
Loading up on zinc-rich foods, such as nuts and fish, may help boost your skin health.
7. Treat fresh marks ASAP
If stretch marks still appear, you can try to minimize their appearance. Consult a doctor or dermatologist to help determine the cause and the appropriate treatment options.
Treatment options include retinoid creams, laser therapy, glycolic acid creams, or chemical peels.
Make sure to consult your doctor first if you are pregnant or nursing.
Most stretch marks eventually fade and become less noticeable over time.
Prevention may be difficult and many product claims lack scientific backing. However, trying them out aren’t likely to hurt, either.
Maintaining a healthy weight, staying hydrated, eating a healthy diet, and immediate treatment are the best ways to help prevent the appearance of stretch marks.