Stretch marks, also known as striae distensae (SD) or striae gravidarum, look like indented streaks in your skin and they may look red, purple or white. They are most common on the chest, stomach, hips, thighs and bottom. Anyone can develop stretch marks in any phase of life, however they are common in pregnancy. If your parents (or even your grandparents) have stretch marks, then there is a likelihood that you will get them. However, even if you are at increased risk of getting stretch marks, here are some tips to minimize the risk or even treat the stretch marks you already have.
- Control your weight
The most important thing you can do to prevent stretch marks, (whether you’re pregnant or not), is to maintain a healthy weight. Stretch marks usually appear when your skin pulls apart quickly due to rapid weight gain but you may also notice them after rapid weight loss. Maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise plan can help you minimize any rapid weight gain. However, if you do gain or lose weight rapidly, it may be better to visit your doctor.
- Stay hydrated
In order to keep your skin hydrated and soft you have to drink enough water as dry skin is more likely to develop stretch marks. According to the Institute of Medicine, the recommended daily water intake is 3 litres for men and 2.5 litres for women. It is important to balance your fluid intake with plenty of water (or even tea), as caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, may increase the risk of developing stretch marks.
- Eat a nutrient-rich diet
If your diet includes foods rich in Vitamin C, D, E, protein and zinc then you have nothing to fear as stretch marks often appear if you lack nutrition in certain areas! Choosing unprocessed food in various colors could help you get a variety of nutrients too. For example, milk, whole wheat toast and blueberries not only add many colours to your plate but also provide a wide variety of nutrients.
- Include vitamin C in your diet
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for developing collagen that helps your skin being strong and elastic. Collagen reduces the appearance of wrinkles, but it is also important for preventing stretch marks. Foods rich in Vitamin C are fruits and vegetables such as, oranges and lemons.
- Soak up some vitamin D
Vitamin D, commonly referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”, could reduce the risk of stretch marks. Foods rich in Vitamin D are bread, cereal, and dairy products. One study conducted by Zanella et al. (2015) found that low levels of vitamin D is correlated with the incidence of stretch marks.
- Eat foods rich in zinc
Zinc is an important nutrient that can be found in nuts and fish and is contributing to skin health. It plays an important role in the wound healing process and it also helps reducing inflammation.
- Treat fresh stretch marks when they appear
If you already have stubborn stretch marks on your skin, you can try to minimize their appearance so they aren’t so noticeable in the long term. Make an appointment with your dermatologist early to discuss your options if you have fresh stretch marks. Your doctor can determine which treatment is best for you.