What Stretch Marks Really Are (And How To Treat Them)
Believe it or not, the vast majority of us have stretch marks in some form on some part of our bodies. They most commonly appear as bands of parallel stripes, streaks or lines on the skin, and the lines are a different texture and color than the rest of your healthy skin. When you touch them, you may feel an indentation or slight ridge on the skin. They can feel itchy, they can feel sore and they can appear on a range of body areas like the stomach, breasts, hips, thighs, lower back, upper arms and buttocks. They aren’t dangerous, and they usually disappear (or at least fade) over time, but we know that doesn’t make you dislike them any more than you already do.
The good news is that there are a handful of home remedies you can try to reduce the appearance of stretch marks surprisingly effectively. But before we dive into them, let’s touch on what causes these streaks in your skin in the first place.
The appearance of stretch marks is the result of an increase of cortisone in your body and skin stretching. Cortisone is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands, and too much can make the skin lose its elasticity. Women who have been pregnant or rapidly gained or lost weight have likely experienced the skin stretching component of stretch marks, but they aren’t the only ones. Folks with Cushing’s syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Marfan’s syndrome and other adrenal gland disorders may get stretch marks because of the high amount of cortisone in their bodies. Corticosteroid creams, pills or lotions can also lead to stretch marks by reducing the ability of the skin to stretch, so if you use or have used one of these products, that could explain your stretch marks.
Your skin can appear pink and thin before stretch marks start to emerge. The marks initially develop as raised, wrinkly streaks that are pink, purple, red, dark brown or reddish-brown in hue, depending on your skin color. Over time, they settle into the skin and shift to a lighter, almost white color, but that can take years. Luckily, stretch marks aren’t harmful and don’t cause medical issues. But in rare cases, they can reveal an underlying medical problem that does require monitoring or treatment.
Ready to try and reduce your stretch marks with DIY remedies? Give these ideas a try.
Aloe vera is very useful for your body, particularly for your skin. Its soothing properties, stemming from two compounds called glucomannan and gibberellins, help to speed along the healing process. These compounds increase collagen synthesis, which fades stretch marks. Aloe is also rich in essential vitamins, enzymes and minerals that contain antioxidant properties.
For your aloe-based remedy, cut open an aloe vera leaf and take out its gel. Combine it with the oil from 10 capsules of vitamin E and five capsules of vitamin A. Massage the mixture on your skin until it’s fully absorbed. Keep it on for 15 minutes before washing it off with lukewarm water. Follow this routine twice daily until your stretch marks begin to disappear.
Castor oil is full of ricinoleic acid, and the fatty acid helps keep your skin healthy. It helps seal moisture in skin cells, and it also keeps stretch marks free of bacteria, enhancing the fading process. Finally, it facilitates collagen and elastin production, which help the skin stay firm.
Combine two tablespoons of castor oil and the juice of a potato. Refrigerate this mixture for several hours, and then apply it to the affected regions of your skin. Wash off the mixture with lukewarm water after 30 minutes. Repeat three to four times a week.
Coffee is enriched with caffeine that has high biological activity. It also has strong antioxidant properties and facilitates the degradation of fats under your skin. The gentle scrubbing motion is beneficial for enhancing blood flow in the affected area, resulting in lighter stretch marks.
Make a paste by mixing coffee grounds with water. Cover your affected areas with the paste and gently scrub in a circular motion for three to five minutes. Use warm water to rinse it off and then moisturize. Use this scrub daily for quick results.
Almond oil is loaded with essential nutrients and vitamin E, which nourish and heal the skin quickly. It also assists in reducing scarring, smoothing your skin and improving your complexion.
Add several drops of an essential oil of your choice to one or two tablespoons of almond oil and mix them well. Heat the mixture for several seconds and start applying it all over your stretch marks, massaging it in a circular motion for several minutes. Let it dry. Use this treatment twice a day.
Because it functions as a natural exfoliant, baking soda reveals younger cells by removing the top layer of dead skin cells and reduces the damage caused by skin stretching. Its skin bleaching and whitening properties also make it ideal for removing stretch marks. And its antioxidant properties battle free radicals that cause further damage to your skin.
Create a paste with one tablespoon of baking soda and the juice from one lemon. Apply the paste to your stretch marks and cover it with plastic wrap, letting it sit for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the wrap and wash the area with warm water. Apply this paste every day for quick results.
Jojoba oil is well known for its skin healing and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties help to prevent stretch marks from progressing further. It also accelerates the growth of healthy new cells and effectively nourishes your skin.
Take a few drops of jojoba oil and apply it directly to your stretch marks. Massage it in for a couple of minutes and keep it on. For best results, use it two or three times per day.
Sugar serves as a powerful exfoliant and helps to eliminate dead skin cells. It’s also useful for improving circulation and enhancing the healing process with stretch marks.
Combine one tablespoon of raw sugar, a few drops of lemon juice and a few drops of almond oil to create a grainy scrub. Massage the scrub into your skin for eight to 10 minutes. Wash it off, using warm water, and moisturize. Use this scrub once or twice a day every day for the best results.
The daily application of turmeric is the best method for banishing stretch marks. This spice is a rich source of antioxidants and contains skin-lightening and anti-inflammatory agents. Regular use of turmeric will decrease the stark difference between the stretch mark scars and the appearance of your normal, healthy skin.
Combine one tablespoon of turmeric powder and one tablespoon of fresh cream or yogurt to form a paste, and apply it directly to your stretch marks. Leave it on to dry for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing it off with warm water. Re-apply the mixture twice a day to see your stretch marks disappear.
Cocoa butter can heal your skin and boost new cell production, thanks to its high concentration of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C and E. It also helps to seal the moisture into your skin cells. What’s more, the polyphenols present in cocoa butter improve collagen production and retention, as well as skin elasticity. It’s also beneficial for healing sensitive and dry skin.
Combine three tablespoons of olive oil, three tablespoons of cocoa butter and three tablespoons of coconut oil in a bowl. Massage a small dab of the mixture into your stretch marks for a couple of minutes. Leave it on and repeat every day for the best results.
Emily Pham is the natural lifestyle blogger behind beautytalk.com.
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