The idea of prevention of stretch marks is a topic of debate, yet the very idea of prevention has got a great significance in all health-related problems. The saying, “Prevention is better than cure”, is fully applicable to many health issues, including stretch marks.
Many modern treatment methods like cosmetic surgery and laser therapy are beyond the reach of many people, so this makes the idea of taking preventive measures of greater importance.
Since there is a limit for the elasticity of skin, enormous stretching for a long time results in stretch marks. In the case of pregnancy, the abdominal wall has to keep stretching for a prolonged period to accommodate the enlarging uterus, and stretch marks during pregnancy are the most common among all types.
However, some preventive measures help to reduce the severity. But one thing is clear; prevention of stretch marks is much easier than its treatment.
In the marketplace, there are wide ranges of products available which are supposed to prevent stretch marks when applied on the skin throughout pregnancy. But many of the products have not been scientifically proved so far, yet people spend a lot of money.
How To Prevent Stretch Marks
There are some general guidelines to be followed by every person to prevent stretch marks.
1. Balanced diet: Balanced diet is most essential for the skin to maintain its quality. The diet should contain adequate amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, lipids, minerals etc. Most important among them are proteins, vitamins like A, C, E, K, and Zinc.
- Proteins: Main sources are meat, fish, egg, soybeans nuts etc.
- Vitamins: Among vitamins the most important are Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and vitamin K.
- Vitamin A: Sources are Carrots, Vegetables, Rice, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Apricot, Spinach, Mango etc.
- Vitamin C: Sources are Citrus fruits, Guava, Papaya, Strawberries etc.
- Vitamin E: Sources are Almonds, Vegetable oils, Seeds, Sunflower, Oats, Peaches, Avocado etc.
- Vitamin K: Green leafy vegetables, Cabbage, Liver, Milk products etc.
- Zinc: Zinc is very essential for the formation of collagen. Mostly found in nuts, bananas, raisins, legumes, and fish.
2. Water intake: Adequate amount of water should be taken every day to maintain the water balance of the body. When the skin becomes dry it is prone to stretch marks.
3. Controlled weight gain: Sudden increase in the body size is the main cause for stretch marks. Hence a controlled weight gain can reduce the chance greatly.
4. Exercise & relaxation techniques: Regular exercise and relaxation techniques can increase the blood supply to the skin and keep it intact. Exercise also helps to maintain the tone of muscles to prevent a big belly. It also helps to prevent an excess of fat deposition. Exercise should be done regularly in a gentle manner. Rigorous exercise can be harmful and hence aerobic exercises are much useful for ordinary people. Similarly, walking, swimming, meditation, yoga, etc also help.
5. Habits: Avoid junk foods, overeating, tobacco, alcohol and excess use of steroids.
6. Lifestyle: A healthy lifestyle should be maintained.
7. Sleep: Sound sleep is very essential for the maintenance of good health. However, sleeping with snoring should be avoided.
8. External applications: These are not 100% effective. External application of cocoa butter, olive oil, almond oil, fish oil, lavender oil, aloe vera extract etc during pregnancy and controlled weight gain are useful. Similarly, ointments containing Vitamin A & E are also widely used with some benefits.
9. Milk bath: Milk is a major ingredient in a few cosmetic creams due to its skin softening properties. In this method, the entire body is soaked in a bathtub containing a cup of skimmed milk powder and sufficient quantity of water. By repeating this procedure the skin becomes soft and elastic. This method may be utilized as a preventive and curative method for stretch marks. Use of soap is contraindicated while having a milk bath.
Using Natural Substances For Stretch Marks
Many of us spend a lot for the prevention and treatment of stretch marks. Almost all modern methods are very expensive. A large number of external applications and cosmetics are also costly.
But the same benefits can be achieved by using some natural substances available in the market. These may be natural food articles or natural substances for external application.
Some common household items that are very helpful and cheaper.
- Cocoa butter is the most popular external remedy for stretch marks.
- Oils: Examples: Fish oil, virgin olive oil, jojoba oil, lavender oil, borage oil, almond oil, apricot kernel oil, emu oil, sesame oil, wheat germ oil, rosehip oil, coconut oil, sandalwood oil, carrier oil, sunflower oil etc help to promote collagen production.
- Chamomile can be applied externally.
- Mimosa tenuiflora bark extract is indicated externally.
- Shea butter minimizes the appearance of stretch marks.
- Indian pennywort is used externally.
- Aloe Vera extract or gel is indicated externally.
- Grated beeswax can be applied externally.
- Indian Gooseberry is used as a source of vitamins.
- St Paul’s Wort is used externally.
- Mango butter is used externally.
- Avocado extract is used externally.
- Field Horsetail extract is used externally.
- Common Ivy extract is helpful for external use.
- Grape seed extract is applied externally due to its antioxidant properties.
- External application of hibiscus makes the skin moist and prevents collagen rupture.
- Ivy wood extract is used externally due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Gotu Kola increases blood circulation and promotes collagen synthesis.
- Ginseng is used both externally and internally due to its collagen breaking properties and nutritive value.
Note: Please remember that external applications should not be used without doctor’s advice and sensitivity testing by applying on the forearm
It is a fact that most of the moisturizers do work for a few hours and give temporary benefits. However, the process of massaging itself is also helpful as it increases the blood circulation, that’s why all external applications are useful to a certain extent, irrespective of their therapeutic quality.
Alternative Healing Systems That Help With Stretch Marks
There are a number of an alternative mode of therapies, among them some are well established due to their efficacy. Almost all alternative methods treat the person with a holistic approach.
Experience shows that people with stretch marks show a good response to alternative therapies. Some useful treatment methods are given.
Applying body makeup can help hide stretch marks, and you’ll find many creams, salves, oils, and other skin ointments that claim to either prevent or treat them. But in fact, prevention is your best defense against stretch marks