Stretch Marks While Pregnant: What Are They & How to Prevent Them?
Up to 90% of pregnant women will confront themselves with the occurrence of stretch marks sooner or later. The few ones who won`t experience this issue have an elastic skin with a good tone, either due to genetic heritage, or the increased attention they have given to this issue over time – years of nutrition and sports before pregnancy.
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What Are Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks are visible lines on the skin`s surface. At first, these have the color of a reddened skin, but then they will whiten and get the appearance of scars. Stretch marks are usually found on the abdomen, but they may appear on the thighs, arms, buttocks or breasts. Sometimes, they can cover large areas of body.
Stretch marks don`t raise big issues of health, but they bring an aesthetic damage to the body that is rather difficult to overlook. In the areas covered by them, the surface is wrinkled. When they appear, stretch marks may cause itching in that particular area.
Experts claim that stretch marks affect 90% of pregnant women, 70% of teenagers and 40% of athletes.
Other Skin Changes
Some women notice other change in their skin during pregnancy as well:
- The nipples become darker in color.
- There`s a dark line (linea nigra) that occurs from the navel to the pubic area; actually, the white line that you probably never noticed before turns to a darker color.
- On the forehead, nose and cheeks appear some splashes of dark skin (chloasma or mark of pregnancy) – they are brown in women with light-colored skin and lighter in color in women with darker skin.
Most of these skin changes are caused by pregnancy hormones and will disappear after childbirth.
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The sun may intensify these pigments of the skin, so you may have a different reason to use sunscreen creams on all exposed areas.
Tingling & Itching
Tingling, numbness of the fingers and swelling of the hands are common symptoms while expecting a baby. Around 20% of all pregnant women feel tingling in the abdomen, pals and soles. Pregnancy hormones and thin, stretched skin are the causes of these signs. Usually, the itching disappears soon after birth.
Meanwhile, follow the below tips to improve your state of well being:
- Use moisturizing creams instead of lotions.
- Use mild soaps that don`t over-dry your skin.
- Avoid showers or baths that are too hot and can dry the skin.
- Avoid any materials or clothes that can irritate your skin.
- Avoid too much heat as it may accentuate your itching.
Sometimes, the itching sensations might be signs of a serious liver illness known as cholestasis. This medical condition is manifested by vomiting, tiredness, nausea, itching, jaundice and loss of appetite.
Causes of Stretch Marks
The skin is formed of 3 main layers:
- The epidermis (the outer layer).
- The dermis (the middle layer).
- The subcutaneous or hypodermis layer (subcutaneous tissue or deepest layer).
The signs from the dermis occur when the conjugative layer is stretched beyond its flexibility due to rapid skin expansion or contraction. When your skin stretches, collagen becomes weak and its cycle of production is interrupted. The results consist of fine scars under the skin upper layer. Initially, the signs are red or pink, but in time, they whiten and stretch marks occur that look like fine scars.
- Pregnancy is the main cause of stretch marks.
- These signs also appear as a result of obesity or sudden weight loss.
- Stress and physical condition change may cause stretch marks as well.
- Hereditary factors are also to blame for these unsightly signs.
- Also, poor nutrition and increased secretion of adrenal glands may lead to a breakage of connective tissue and stretch marks.
How to Prevent Stretch Marks?
We can prevent them from occurring in a few simple ways:
- Proper nutrition (lots of fruits, fibers and vegetables).
- You have to drink 2L of liquids on a daily basis.
- Massaging the problematic areas can bring lots of benefits. Massage helps maintain skin elasticity and improves blood circulation.
- Physical exercises.
- Lotions and anti-stretch marks creams penetrate into epithelial cells and moisturize the skin from outside, maintain elasticity and firmness.
Proper Nutrition & Hydration
Nutrition is an essential factor in preventing stretch marks when expecting a baby. Frequent consumption of fruits and vegetables helps in hydrating the skin from the inside. We already know that beauty comes from inside – and it`s true for the skin as well. If the diet is deficient and low in vitamins and minerals, if you smoke and drink alcohol, all these things will reflect on the aspect of the skin, no matter the creams and lotions you are using.
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To prevent stretch marks, choose a diet rich in zinc, silicon, proteins, vitamins A, E, D and C. This will mean including eggs, carrots, milk, citrus and salads in your diet. All these foods are essential for the harmonious development of your baby in your belly.
Also, during pregnancy you need to control your cravings and unhealthy eating habits to avoid over-weighting. It`s normal to add a few pounds, but be careful not to overdo it, because you`ll force the elasticity of the skin too much and it may crack, leading to stretch marks.
Water is a very important element when it comes to hydrating the entire body and, implicitly, the skin. Keeping your body well hydrated means you`ll also have a hydrated skin. Water restores skin elasticity and gets rid of stretch marks. It`s recommended to drink 2L of water every day.
You should avoid coffee, black and green tea, because they may cause dehydration.
Hydration plays an important role in the fight with stretch marks. Even if you didn`t consumed enough fluids before being pregnant, hydration during pregnancy is necessary. Sufficient moisturization has beneficial effects for the skin, maintaining its elasticity and preventing it from drying out.
Olive oil is a powerful ally when struggling with stretch marks, especially if it`s used regularly. Heat a little olive oil (how much you can hold on your skin), then wrap with food oil for 20 minutes. After that, take a shower to get rid of skin loaded with dead cells.
Massage with Anti-Wrinkle Creams
You can use some creams, but with great care, as you should only use those especially designed for pregnant women.
Additionally, you should be careful not to ignore physical exercises when moisturizing the skin. Any physical exercise that can be performed safely is beneficial for both you and your baby.
Anti-Stretch Marks Tricks
There are no guaranteed methods to keep stretch marks away from your skin that are 100% efficient. However, it`s important not to gain more weight during pregnancy than your doctor recommends, and the pounds you add should be accumulated gradually rather than suddenly.
Will the Stretch Marks Disappear after Birth?
Normally after birth, they start to disappear, and the skin starts to gradually return to normal. However, a lot of mothers sometimes remain with some of them. Despite all the efforts on using creams and lotions, some of these stretch marks don`t disappear at all.
If you are bothered by some of the signs your pregnancy has left on you, you may talk to a dermatologist; there are a lot of therapeutic options that doctors can recommend these days. However, these must be performed after birth, as some of them may put the life of the fetus in danger.
There`s also a method of removing stretch marks by using topical drugs, like tretinoin (Retin-A) or glycolic acid.
The most common method is laser therapy. It helps restore skin elasticity and also changes the pigmentation of the skin so that it resembles with the rest of the skin.