There’s more than meets the eye rings true for our skin, the largest organ in our body. While it is spread neatly all over our body and is sensitive to touch, light, heat and cold, it is extremely tough and goes deep.
Our skin consists of three layers each performing a unique function. The innermost layer is known as the subcutaneous tissue; the middle layer is called the dermis and the outermost layer, what is visible to our eyes, is known as the epidermis. Our connecting tissues are filled with an important protein known as Elastin which gives our skin the elasticity to restore its original shape and position.
Elastin ensures that through our puberty and weight gain or loss, our skin stretches or shrinks without any visible lines forming on its surface. However, sometimes our skin stretches rapidly due to a growth spurt or extreme weight gain/loss, this causes tears in the middle layer, i.e., the dermis causing it to reveal the blood vessels underneath.
This condition, also known as Striae, mostly occurs during pregnancy when a mother puts on a considerable amount of weight over a short period of time. It is also found in men and women who experience a growth spurt or extreme weight loss/gain.
Usually, these marks appear on the belly, but they can also be found on breasts, thighs, hips, lower back and buttocks.
However, stretch marks are not a risk to our health; they do not alter the body’s functionality but can be a cosmetic menace. Although a complete removal of stretch marks is unheard of, some cosmetic and topical treatments can lighten their appearance. To understand these treatments, it is important to differentiate between red and white stretch marks.
Red Stretch Marks
When our skin with its finite elasticity stretches beyond its limit, the tissues on the dermis layer break and reveal a network of small blood vessels beneath the tissue. As a result, the affected areas appear red or reddish purple. This is a sign of new stretch marks. Fret not, these new reddish stretch marks have a greater chance to be treated.
Natural remedies for lightening red stretch marks:
Vitamin C is a vital ingredient in the building of the protein Collagen. Vitamin C is found in fruits, leafy greens, berries etc. Even a topical application of creams and oils containing vitamin C is recommended in certain cases.
Vitamin E is the best form of antioxidants, and encourages quick healing of stretch marks by neutralizing toxins.
Cocoa butter is a yellowish edible fat obtained from the cocoa plant. Other than its best-known use (to make chocolates) cocoa butter has a lot of other benefits. It is a deep moisturizer that is known to heal skin problems related to sensitive skin.
White Stretch Marks
White or silver coloured stretch marks arise when the constricted blood vessels reveal the fat tissue underneath. The white fat tissue gives it the distinct silvery shade. These are clinically referred to as Striae Alba.
Since they are older marks, they need treatments that go deeper than topical prescriptions. Most experts argue that there is no way to eliminate white stretch marks. Some of the treatments available are fractional non-ablative laser, pulsed dye laser treatment or surgical abdominoplasty. However, most of these are not advisable for pregnant women. You must consult your ob-gyn and dermatologist before undergoing any treatment.
So, while there is no effective removal treatment for stretch marks, they can be lightened and altogether prevented by following a few healthy tips.
Hydrating your body and skin is the most important step in making sure that your body produces enough elastin. Further, it’s necessary to maintain a healthy weight and avoid any sudden bulking up of body through weight-training. A gentle application of topical creams such as coconut oil and vitamin E oil will lighten and sooth any dryness or itching experienced in the striae affected areas.