There are a number of things that can cause stretch marks but the ones that are almost always associated with the condition are pregnancy and rapid weight gain. Other factors include puberty, family history and certain medications such as corticosteroids.
Rapid weight gain can often result in stretch marks in both men and women. This includes weight gain through weight training as well as excessive body fat. Pregnancy and stretch marks are a popular association for most people but what causes stretch marks during pregnancy?
What Causes Pregnancy Stretch Marks?
Here’s the thing, stretch marks are not always caused solely by stretching of the skin. Something that occurs during pregnancy, as well as weight gain, is a significant change in our body’s hormones. The dermis is a secondary layer of skin beneath the outer surface and is made up of Collagen and Elastic Fibers. Fibroblast cells are prevented from forming collagen and elastic fibers by Glucocorticoid hormones. The result is skin with a lack of support and reduced elasticity. As the skin is stretched the unsupported dermis and epidermis (outer layer of skin) tears, resulting in so called’ stretch marks’.
So the stretching of the body’s skin is a key part of all this but a notable influence is how hormone levels change and what affect they have in our bodies.
Around 75% – 90% of women will develop some degree of stretch marks during pregnancy. As a result of hormone levels present throughout pregnancy, stretch marks will usually appear during the sixth or seventh month, primarily during the 3rd trimester. This is when the stretching forces on the skin are at their highest level.
How to Prevent Stretch Marks During Pregnancy
If you are pregnant you will no doubt want to avoid having stretch marks after pregnancy. The good news is that there are some steps you can take to help prevent stretch marks during your pregnancy instead of waiting until it’s too late.
You may be one of those women who will not be able to completely avoid stretch marks forming but you should at least be able to help reduce them if you follow some easy tips. Daily use of certain oils and creams will be the key to either preventing stretch marks from forming or reducing their appearance when they do.
I recently conducted a survey on this website asking new mothers what they would recommend to first time moms during their pregnancy. The area most highlighted was that of stretch marks and how to avoid them. So, what to use to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy? Below are the three most recommend products used with success by expectant moms to prevent and reduce stretch marks.
Best Oils For Stretch Marks
The top product used in the prevention of stretch marks is Bio Oil. It has been clinically proven to actually improve the appearance of pregnancy related stretch marks. One of its main ingredients is PurCellin Oil, which is a reproduction of the oil that is made by a duck’s preen gland. This natural oil is used by a duck to cover its feathers in a non-greasy coating. This allows it to swim more easily. On human skin PurCellin Oil offers greater spreadability and absorption into the skin.
Bio Oil is the most recommended product by UK pharmacists for pregnant women wanting to reduce the appearance of stretch marks from pregnancy. During the second and third trimesters Bio Oil helps to maintain the elasticity of skin tissue.
I have seen the results of Bio Oil first hand. My wife used it through both of her pregnancies and has no stretch marks whatsoever. Once a day every day and the skin stays supple and strong. She swears by it and says it is the best best oil to prevent stretch marks.
The Best Stretch Mark Cream During Pregnancy
The second highest rating product for fighting stretch marks during pregnancy is cream. There are many on the market but E45 cream appears to be top of the list for many women. Although there is no evidence that it actually helps with stretch marks during pregnancy many women find it a great cream to help keep their skin supple and healthy. This may help prevent the onset of stretch marks.
E45 is a non-greasy emollient that is quickly absorbed into the skin. It is most suited to conditions such as eczema, dermatitis and other dry skin conditions.
Another recommended product to help with pregnancy stretch marks is Palmer’s Cocoa Butter. It is available in a lotion or a butter. It is highly recommended, especially the Tummy Butter. It is made from pure Cocoa Butter and enriched with Collagen, Vitamin E and Elastin; the very things that the skin is deprived of during pregnancy.
Palmer’s Cocoa Butter is specifically designed to help prevent and reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Some prefer the lotion that can be gently massaged into the skin straight away; the butter is a little hard at first until warmed in the hands.
Other Methods of Pregnancy Stretch Marks Prevention
The third recommendation for stretch marks reduction is a massage bar. Women find this useful to rub into their bump as it is soothing and helps keep their skin soft. The bar is in a form similar to a bar of soap but it is so much more luxurious. It also has similar qualities to the Cocoa Butter with all the natural ingredients that help the skin do its job under the stress of pregnancy.
I think it is fair to say that women hate stretch marks. As a man I have some on my arms and sometimes they itch. I cannot imagine what it is like for women but I do know they would normally do anything they can to avoid them.
The bad news is, you can’t do anything to completely eradicate the risk of stretch marks occurring when you get pregnant; some women are lucky and some are unlucky. The good thing about the three remedies above is that they can be used to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy as well as helping to reduce stretch marks after pregnancy.