Stretchmarks are visible lines on the surface of the skin that are usually an off-colour. They result when there has been a sudden stretching of skin and are normally found in the abdominal wall, thighs, upper arms, buttocks and breasts. The skin consists of three different layers: Epidermis (the outer layer), Dermis (the middle layer) and Subcutaneous or Hypodermic (the deepest layer). Stretchmarks form in the dermis layer. As stretching of the skin occurs the collagen is weakened its normal production cycle is interrupted and it is therefore damaged. This results in fine scaring under the top layer of your skin (epidermis).
Red stretchmarks indicate that the stretch mark is in its early stages of development while white stretchmarks indicate that the stretch mark is in its late stages. Pregnancy is the main cause of stretchmarks but according to Medical News Daily, 70% of girls and 40% boys develop stretchmarks during puberty. Other reasons could be a sudden change in weight, rapid growth, heredity factors, stress and changes in physical conditions.
My stretchmarks started to develop when I hit puberty. Although I have learnt to accept them with time, in the beginning my need to be ‘perfect’ made me keep them hidden under a layer of clothing. I was self-conscious about my body and overall uncomfortable with having my skin on display to everybody else that wasn’t me. I tried bio-oil and I even tried Intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment but nothing has worked so far, but I am always welcome to new ideas surrounding stretchmarks prevention and treatment. I’m going to share some of my findings with you because chances are, as can be seen with the stats above, you are in the exact same position as me.
- Keep your skin moisturized. If your skin is stretching it is less likely to tear if it is hydrated.
- Retinoic acid cream has shown to help boost collagen production, avoiding tears.
- Glycolic acid increases the elasticity of your skin.
- Limit sun exposure and wear sunscreen.
- Take your dose of Vitamin C and Zinc.
- Exfoliate the effected areas before applying any creams or oils.
Professionals have proposed that although there are various procedures and practices that can help you with your skin’s elasticity, none have proven effective so far. Applying self-tanner to your stretchmarks may temporarily minimise the difference between the normal colour of your skin and your stretchmarks.
I, unfortunately, am in my white stretchmarks phase this means that they are old and that getting rid of them is a lot more complicated now. If you’re like me then you need a whole other kind of cure – acceptance. Listen to Kendrick Lamar’s ode, Humble, to stretchmarks and comfort yourself in the knowledge that you are not the only one with stretchmarks. You are beautiful!