Many people have stretch marks on at least one part of their body due to gaining weight rapidly at some time. When they first appear stretch marks are angry looking red or purple lines that appear on the skins surface, although over time they fade to a more silvery color that is far less noticeable.

If an area of the skin has a lot of stretch marks the surrounding skin can take on a puckered or baggy appearance.

Causes

Any form of rapid weight gain can cause stretch marks to appear on areas of the body, places most likely to be affected include the stomach, buttocks, breasts, hips and thighs, although they can appear in other placed including the back arms and legs.

During pregnancy and adolescent people have a far higher risk of getting stretch marks because of hormonal  changes within the body along with the extra weight that is gained.
Weightlifters are also at risk as gaining muscle quickly can also have the same effect on the skin. Genetics can also be a factor in how well the skin reacts to being stretched.

When the skin is suddenly stretched the middle layer, known as the dermis can be affected, preventing the fibroblasts from being able to form collagen and elastin fibres which is essential to keeping growing skin taunt. This means that there is a lack of material to support the skins layers resulting in the skin tearing and the deeper layers beginning to show through.

Treatment

Unfortunately it is impossible to completely eliminate stretch marks, although their appearance can fade and become a lot less noticeable over time.

Some people find applying certain products to their skin can help their appearance improve more quickly, popular products include lemon juice, olive oil, coconut oil, vitamin E oil and wheat germ products. There is a wide range of products available in shops that are created with the intention of improving the appearance of stretch marks although they vary widely in how effective the results that they achieve can be.

Some people also undergo laser therapy or other clinical treatments to help lessen the appearance of stretch marks, although invasive surgery such as tummy tucks that remove the affected area is the only way to totally remove them for good.

Prevention

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and keeping weight at a regular level will prevent the skin from becoming stretched leading to the risk of stretch marks forming.

During pregnancy and adolescence, using products such as vitamin E cream or coconut oil can help to nourish skin and make the dermis less likely to split and cause stretch marks.
Eating a diet that is rich in vitamins and other essential nutrients can also help to make sure skin remains strong and elastic.

  • Zinc, which can be found in brazil nuts and turkey helps the enzymes within the skin repair damage more effectively.
  • Vitamins A, C and E are all very good for helping to improve the condition of the skin and encourages the growth of new cells. Vitamin C can be found in oranges, carrots and sweet potatoes, vitamins E and A can be found in avocados, sunflower seeds and dairy products.
  • Eating foods that contain plenty of protein really helps to improve the skins condition. Eggs, tuna and beans are all really good sources of protein.
  • Drinking plenty of water and making sure that the skin stays well hydrated is key to making sure it remains free from toxins which can cause damage.

Unfortunately stretch marks are impossible to completely eliminate and even the best efforts to prevent them can fail, but given time they do fade and normally become easy to hide with a little foundation or other make up.

As many people find they are affected on at least one area of their body, it is a common part of life so there is no need to be embarrassed or be worried by their appearance.