Striae, or what’s more commonly known as stretch marks, is a skin condition that involves the formation of blue scar lines on the skin. This article explores ways to protect against the formation of stretch marks, as well as treatment options to reduce their size and visibility.
Striae, a common skin condition from which millions of men and women suffer, affects up to 90% of the adult population. Also known as stretch marks, they’re characterized by the presence of parallel scar lines with a different color (usually purple, blue or pink) than the surrounding skin.
Stretch marks form when the layer of skin separating the epidermis from the subcutaneous tissue becomes torn. Usually, skin is somewhat elastic and able to flex without sustaining damage. There are times, however, when it’s unable to support stretching, resulting in tearing of the dermis and subsequent stretch marks. So, what steps can you take to prevent stretch marks?
Drink Plenty of Water
Statistics show that three-fourths of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Over time, this can lead to fatigue, headaches, joint aches, high blood pressure, and even stretch marks. Without adequate water, the skin will lose its elasticity, becoming more susceptible to stretch marks. Rather than flexing and returning to its original shape, the skin tears.
Drinking water and staying hydrated can reduce your risk of developing stretch marks. While water requirements vary from person to person, a good rule of thumb is to drink at least 64 ounces of H2O per day.
You should also get into the habit of moisturizing your skin at least once a day. Skin is more likely to crack and tear when it’s dry, which can cause stretch marks to form.
Moisturizing is particularly important during pregnancy. As the mother’s unborn baby grows, it causes her stomach to expand. This significant expansion in such a short period forces the skin to tear and stretch marks to form. Pregnant women usually develop stretch marks during the final trimester. If you are pregnant though, you should begin a skin-moisturizing regimen as soon as possible to protect your skin from damage.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Weight plays a vital role in a person’s risk of developing stretch marks. Men and women who are overweight are more likely to experience this skin condition. Therefore, you should make the necessary lifestyle changes to promote a healthy weight, including exercising on a regular basis and eating the right foods.
Keep Cortisone Levels in Check
Cortisone is a hormone produced naturally by the adrenal gland. Dubbed the “stress hormone,” its released in response to stress. Small amounts of cortisone are perfectly fine and even beneficial. Among other things, it suppresses inflammatory diseases and allergies. When there’s too much cortisone in your body, however, skin loses its elasticity and becomes more susceptible to stretch marks.
To control the cortisone levels in your body, you need to manage your stress levels. When you become more stressed, your body will produce more cortisone. A study conducted by researchers from the Loma Linda University also found that laughter can help reduce cortisone levels.
How to Treat Stretch Marks
Stretch marks are harmless, posing no risk to your health. Nonetheless, they can still have an adverse effect on your self-esteem. Following the advice listed above will reduce your risk of developing stretch marks. If you happen to have them already though, here are some tips to help:
- Continue moisturizing your skin daily, paying extra attention to areas with stretch marks
- When outdoors, cover your stretch marks with a high-SPF sunscreen lotion
- Laser therapy and light therapy treatments may reduce the size and visibility of stretch marks
- Apply vitamin E lotion to your stretch marks
- Add more fruits to your diet. Fruits contain water, vitamins, and antioxidants, all of which promote healthy skin function
- Consider a microdermabrasion procedure. It involves blasting the affected skin with fine crystals to “buff out” the stretch marks
- Don’t smoke
There’s no foolproof way to either prevent or get rid of stretch marks. However, using these strategies will undoubtedly give you the upper hand against this widespread skin condition.