Written for Scars1 by Michelle Alford
Stretch marks are the most common form of scarring among women. Caused by the rapid stretching of skin, stretch marks can be attributed to growth spurts or obesity, but most commonly develop during pregnancy.
Unfortunately, whether or not you develop stretch marks is primarily determined by your genetics. If your mother and grandmother have stretch marks, then you are predisposed to developing stretch marks as well.
Steps to Preventing Stretch Marks
Moisturize your skin all three trimesters
Eat a healthy diet
Drink 8 to 12 glasses of water a day
Instead of scratching, massage your itchy skin
Regardless of your genetics, there are steps you can take to significantly reduce or prevent the appearance of stretch marks.
Moisturize your skin
Moisturizing your skin will make it more elastic and help it to stretch without tearing. Begin moisturizing your skin in the first trimester, and continue moisturizing until you return to your normal weight after giving birth. There are many lotions and oils marketed specifically for preventing stretch marks. Ask your friends and read online reviews to determine the best moisturizer for you. Keep in mind that more expensive moisturizers are not necessarily better than cheaper moisturizers—especially if you use the moisturizer more sparingly because of its cost. For the best results, you should completely cover all areas susceptible to stretch marks—including your stomach, hips, thighs, and breasts—with a thick layer of lotion at least twice a day.
Eat a healthy diet
Many women use the fact that they are eating for two as an excuse to eat whatever they want, but a diet filled with excessive sugar or fat isn’t good for expectant mothers or their babies. Doctors recommend that you gain no more than 35 pounds while pregnant (25 to 35 pounds for slim women and 11 to 25 pounds for heavier women). A balanced diet will reduce your total weight gain while still providing your baby with all of his or her nutritional needs. Eating well will also help you gain weight at a slow and steady rate, which will help your skin grow without cracking.
In addition, make sure to drink plenty of water. If your skin becomes dehydrated, it’s more likely to stretch and break. Doctors recommend drinking 8 to 12 glasses of water a day while pregnant.
Massage your skin
Your skin may feel itchy as it stretches. Instead of scratching, which can cause additional damage, carefully massage the skin. This will increase circulation and promote the growth of new cells.
Discuss in the stretch marks in the Scar1 forums
Photo: Arwen Abendstern