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How to Get Rid of Stretch Marks Naturally

Story at-a-glance

  • There are numerous remedies for stretch marks in the market today, with many of them claiming that they can make these marks disappear in a few days or weeks. The bad news is that despite their high cost, many of these products don’t work
  • Avoiding stretch marks is a matter of staying hydrated and keeping your skin moisturized

Numerous products and clinical procedures that center on the elimination of stretch marks have emerged in the market. The prices of these products range from affordable to thousands of dollars. But what exactly are stretch marks and why do they appear on your body?

What Causes Stretch Marks?

As their name implies, stretch marks are caused by the sudden stretching of the dermal layer of the skin, such as during pregnancy. They usually appear as long and narrow streaks or stripes along the skin, which is why some people call them “tiger stripes.”1 These striations are also called stria or striae gravidarium.2

Stretch marks are usually seen on your thighs, abdomen, buttocks and sometimes your shoulders.3 There are two factors why you get them:

Physical factors — If you closely observe the physical manifestation of stretch marks, you will notice that they are usually seen in regions of the body that are known to be very susceptible to rapid increase in girth.

The dermal layer of the skin is stretched out, making it appear cracked and torn. This is why stretch marks appear during pregnancy, as they are usually caused by fluctuations in your weight.5 They’re also seen in people who work out, because of the development of muscle mass.6

In pregnant women, stretch marks can appear when you gain more weight. For this reason, many expectant moms usually consider reducing their food intake.7 However, note that extreme dieting is not recommended when you are pregnant because it may lead to nutritional deficiencies that may endanger both you and your unborn baby’s safety.8,9

Hormonal factors — Studies suggest that stretch marks can also occur because of hormonal changes.10 The hormonal imbalance that occurs during pregnancy and puberty11 alters the production of elastin and collagen, which causes your skin to lose its elasticity, allowing it to tear.12,13

Stretch marks may also manifest during puberty and when growth spurts occur.14 The book “Got Teens?: The Doctor Moms’ Guide to Sexuality, Social Media and Other Adolescent Realities” notes that stretch marks occur at this point because the growth process continuously tucks on the skin, stretching it out more than it is accustomed to.15,16

Another lesser-known risk factor of stretch marks is Cushing’s syndrome. Stretch marks are indicative of this condition because it causes the body to produce a higher amount of cortisol, as well as weight gain and thinning of the skin,17 leading to the formation of purple stretch marks.18

There Are Two Types of Stretch Marks

According to Consumer Health Digest, stretch marks vary in color and appearance and can be classified under two types:19

Red stretch marks (striae rubra) — These form because of the overstretching of the dermal layer of the skin. People with red stretch marks will notice that the blood vessels in the layer below are visible.

White stretch marks (striae alba) — These silvery white marks appear where blood vessels have receded, showing the fat beneath the dermal layer.

Try These Natural Techniques to Help Reduce Stretch Marks

There are numerous stretch mark remedies on the market today, with some claiming that they can make these marks disappear in a few days or weeks. Despite their high cost, many of these products are virtually worthless.

Stretch marks usually go away with time, but if you want to quicken the process, there are numerous natural ways to help you combat the sudden appearance of stretch marks:

Use natural essential oils There are numerous essential oils available on the market that can help alleviate the appearance of stretch marks. These include lavender, frankincense,20 sandalwood21 and tangerine oils.22

Before using these oils, it is recommended that you dilute them in a safe carrier oil like almond, coconut, jojoba or olive. For frankincense oil in particular, avoid using it during pregnancy and when nursing23 because it may trigger menstruation.24

Rub aloe vera on areas that are susceptible to stretch marks — Aloe vera is famous for being a natural remedy for various skin problems because of its moisturizing,25 cooling26 and healing qualities.27 Aloe vera gel is well-known for its anti-inflammatory effects,28 and constantly using it may help make stretch marks less visible.29

If you’re planning to use aloe vera on your stretch marks, acquire the gel from fresh aloe vera stalks (not aloe vera products) and try to apply it onto the area where the marks are located.30

Use lemon juice —Lemon juice is famous for its bleaching and whitening properties,31 and it can also boost the amount of collagen the skin produces because of its high amounts of vitamin C.32 “The Big Book of Home Remedies” recommends cutting a fresh lemon into small pieces and squeezing the juice onto body parts with stretch marks to facilitate healing.33

Use egg whites — Egg whites contain protein and certain amino acids34 that may help target stretch marks.35

How to Avoid Getting Stretch Marks in the First Place

Avoiding stretch marks is a matter of staying hydrated and keeping your skin moisturized. Here are some tips to help you keep your skin stretch mark-free:

Drink sufficient amounts of pure and clean water — Staying hydrated has a lot of positive effects on your body. It helps in the prevention of stretch marks as it provides the skin with enough moisture to stop these marks from showing up when you gain weight or build muscles.36

It is a common misconception that you should drink exactly eight glasses of water daily. The amount of water intake actually varies from person to person. It depends on specific factors like the food you eat, how much you’ve perspired and how much liquid you’ve ingested throughout the day.

To know if you’re dehydrated, I recommend that you use your urine to gauge if you’re drinking enough water. Take in consideration certain factors, including the amount, color and odor. If you observe that you haven’t urinated in several hours, this may be an indication that you are not drinking enough water to flush out your body’s toxins.

Apply coconut oil to stretch mark-prone areas — Coconut oil is revered for its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, and can also be used as a makeup remover, facial cleanser, body scrub, deodorant and even as an ingredient in soaps. I personally use coconut oil every day in various ways.

Coconut oil can also function as a moisturizer to help your skin stay moisturized, exfoliate the outer layer37 and give your skin extra elasticity.38 This can help prevent the breaking of the dermal layer by maintaining its integrity and lowering the risk for stretch marks.39

Eat healthy — Nourishing your body with wholesome foods lets you maintain a healthy balance of vitamins and minerals. By eating a balanced diet, you’re also avoiding the fluctuations in your weight that can cause stretch marks. It helps you maintain a constant weight and prevents you from gaining fat, which usually causes stretch marks to form on your abdomen and thighs.40

Avoid drinking alcohol — As much as possible, avoid excessive intake of alcohol. Alcohol is known to suck out the moisture from your body, which may make your skin drier than normal,41 making it more prone to stretch marks.42

Stock up on vitamin E — Vitamin E is famous for its role in maintaining skin health. It may help preserve the collagen found in the skin, which helps the skin to maintain its elasticity.43

Exercise regularly — Regular exercising can help keep your skin taut and your weight in check, and eventually minimize the risk for stretch mark development.44

These aforementioned tips are only some of the ways to prevent stretch marks from forming. But before you stress out about them, know that it’s completely normal to have them at some point in your life. It’s just one of your body’s ways of adapting to physical changes.45

Nevertheless, if stretch marks form excessively, then it might mean that you need to reevaluate your lifestyle, as you may be experiencing weight gain or loss. Feel free to try the solutions mentioned here to help you bid those stretch marks goodbye!

Sources and References

  • 1 BBC, January 20, 2017
  • 2, 4 Medical News Today, January 5, 2018
  • 3, 6 NHS, June 28, 2016
  • 5, 7 NHS, February 27, 2017
  • 8 PubMed Health, March 22, 2018
  • 9  J Obstet Gynaecol India. 2012 Dec; 62(6): 621–623. Published online 2013 Jan 15
  • 10 American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Volume 196, Issue 1, January 2007, Pages 62.e1-62.e5
  • 11 Medical News Today, April 12, 2018
  • 12 “The DERMAdoctor Skinstruction Manual: The Smart Guide to Healthy, Beautiful Skin and Looking Good at Any Age,” November 1, 2007
  • 13 University of Michigan, November 17, 2015
  • 14, 16 WebMD, January 30, 2017
  • 15 “Got Teens?: The Doctor Moms' Guide to Sexuality, Social Media and Other Adolescent Realities,” February 11, 2014
  • 17 Mayo Clinic, March 6, 2018
  • 18 NHS, January 18, 2018
  • 19 Consumer Health Digest, “The Difference Between Red and White Stretch Marks”
  • 20 Medical News Today, April 24, 2018
  • 21 “The Healing Art of Essential Oils: A Guide to 50 Oils for Remedy, Ritual, and Everyday Use,” January 8, 2017
  • 22 “Natural Handmade Soaps: Techniques and Recipes,” March 1, 2013
  • 23 “Essential Oils for Healing: Over 400 All-Natural Recipes for Everyday Ailments,” July 5, 2016
  • 24 “Frankincense Oil: A Beginner's Guide Revealing the Power of Frankincense Oil,” September 14, 2014
  • 25 “Natural Beauty: 10 Common Foods and Products With Amazing Beauty Benefits,” Marnie Peterson
  • 26 NDTV Food, August 20, 2018
  • 27 Medical News Today, May 28, 2017
  • 28 Indian J Dermatol. 2008; 53(4): 163–166
  • 29 Reader's Digest, "7 Dermatologist-Approved Tricks for Getting Rid of Stretch Marks"
  • 30, 33 “The Big Book of Home Remedies,” 2013
  • 31 “Teeth Whitening Quick Tricks for A Beautiful Smile,” May 24, 2018
  • 32 Indian Dermatol Online J. 2013 Apr-Jun; 4(2): 143–146
  • 34 BBC Good Food, July 18, 2017
  • 35 “Pregnancy Guide For First Time Moms: Week-by-Week, Month-by-Month, Information That You Should Know!,” December 23, 2015
  • 36 “Pregnancy Made Comfortable - With Yoga & Dietetics …,” April 1, 2012
  • 37 Paleo Hacks, “What Happens to Your Skin When You Use Coconut Oil Every Day”
  • 38 “Coconut Oil -The Numerous Advantages: Hygiene Diet and Weight Loss,” September 6, 2013
  • 39 “The Coconut Oil Miracle, 5th Edition,” December 3, 2013
  • 40 The Guardian, October 8, 2006
  • 41 Business Insider, August 4, 2017
  • 42 “The Chill Mom: How to go From Anxious Expectant Mother to Relaxed, Confident Mom,” June 27, 2018
  • 43 "Holistic Beauty from the Inside Out: Your Complete Guide to Natural Health, Nutrition, and Skincare," April 9, 2013
  • 44 "Ask a Midwife," July 21, 2008
  • 45 SELF, January 19, 2017
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