Medically known as striae gravidarum, stretch marks on the stomach are a common sign during pregnancy. They may also appear in other regions of the body, such as the thighs, hips, buttocks and chest. Pregnancy stretch marks are reddish or violet streaks that eventually turn grey, white or silvery. They typically start in between the sixth and seventh months of pregnancy in most women. In some, they may appear sooner.
Pregnancy stretch marks result from the stretching of the skin due to the enlarged abdomen. A woman could be more likely to get them if someone in their family (such as mother, aunt or sister) has a history of pregnancy stretch marks. Faulty eating patterns can also contribute to causing them.
Pregnancy stretch marks are harmless skin marks that may fade away over time. The only concern may be the cosmetic disfigurement of the skin. Here are a few ways to prevent stretch marks from developing:
Maintain a slow and steady weight gain
It is normal to gain weight during pregnancy. However, try to maintain a steady weight gain, and do not exceed the normal weight gain limits. Rapid weight gain is the most common cause of stretch marks. It also makes them more likely to leave scars. Measure the portions of food and pay attention to the nutritional requirements as well. Consult a certified dietician to know about the required food portions during pregnancy.
Ensure adequate hydration
Lack of water can make the skin dry and stretch the abdomen even more. Dry skin is more likely to develop stretch marks than soft, supple skin. Drinking water ensures that the skin stays moisturized and prevents it from stretching. One needs to be mindful about how much water to drink. However, one also needs to limit drinks that can cause fluids loss from the body. This includes caffeinated drinks, such as coffee or caffeinated root beer. Even if a woman happens to consume it, they should replenish the water loss by drinking more water.
Increase the intake of vitamins and protein
Eat foods that are rich in vitamins, namely vitamin A, D, E and C. To improve vitamin D levels, sit in the early sunlight for 15 minutes and consume eggs, fatty fishes and mushrooms. For vitamin C, indulge in fruits, such as kiwis, strawberries, grapefruits and oranges. Vitamin C helps boost the production of collagen, which helps maintain skin elasticity. Consume nuts and seeds to increase the intake of vitamin E. Have eggs for breakfast daily to get proteins.
Massage the skin daily with moisturizer
There are ways to maintain the moisture of the skin externally. Apply and massage moisturizers or oils (such as olive oil, coconut oil or almond oil) over the abdomen. This needs to be applied throughout pregnancy to get the desired results. Also, one could ask the doctor about which over the counter creams or lotions to use to get better results.
If the above simple measures fail to prevent the formation of stretch marks on the abdomen, the doctor may recommend any of the following treatments:
- Retinoid creams
- Glycolic acid peel
- Laser therapy
All these treatments are generally safe. Rarely, there may be an allergic reaction. The doctor will discuss the pros and cons of each treatment before deciding on one.
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Cleveland Clinic. Stretch Marks. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/10785-stretch-marks
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