Stretch marks or striae can appear when our skin loses its original shape in a relatively shorter period. This can be caused by excessive weight gain or loss and, of course, pregnancy. Usually, stretch marks look silver, red, or purple having a textured appearance on your skin.

The most common places where you will find these marks include the abdomen, breasts, and thighs. You don’t have to be worried about stretch marks and take them as a sign of something being wrong with your health. There is absolutely no risk to your baby or you. The only issue with these marks is the constant itching that you may experience and the obvious cosmetic defects of their appearance.

Know the reason for your pregnancy stretch marks

There are two main reasons which led to the appearance of pregnancy stretch marks or striae gravidarum. The first reason is the more obvious one where the skin physically stretches due to the swelling of your stomach.

The skin is generally always trying to adapt to continuous expansion and contraction but during pregnancy, the time becomes greatly limited. In this case, the body starts to expand faster than the skin covering it which results in breakage and tears. The resulting skyline that you see as a result of the tear is what we call a stretch mark.

The second reason involves the priming of the skin as a result of increased levels of hormones in pregnancy. Having said this, there is still a lot of debate among experts with regard to this specific reasoning. With more hormones, the skin cells start attracting more water which can relax the bonds between collagen fibers. This, in turn, can make the skin more prone to tears resulting in stretch marks.

When can you start noticing pregnancy stretch marks?

It is only during the later trimesters of pregnancy, around six to seven months, that you will start seeing stretch marks. But then again, there are also women who can see these marks forming as soon as their bellies start to grow.

The color of the stretch marks will also vary according to your natural skin tone. Lighter skinned women usually develop stretch marks that are pinkish in color whereas, women with darker skin have stretch marks that are lighter than the surrounding skin.

What are the different ways in which you can reduce the appearance of pregnancy stretch marks?

You have to understand that there isn’t much that you can do once stretch marks start forming. You can, of course, reduce the overall appearance but there is no guarantee that these marks will be gone completely leaving you with stretch mark-free skin.

Here are a few ways in which you can reduce the overall appearance of your stretch marks:

Applying Stretch Mark Creams

A couple of years ago, there was a lot of apprehension regarding the efficacy of stretch mark creams. All doubts were put to rest when scientists, after conducting various trials in studies, concluded that using stretch mark cream can, in fact, reduce the appearance of stretch marks with the emphasis being on “reduce.”

Stretch mark creams are usually available in two formulas: curative and preventative.

Curative stretch mark creams are supposed to be applied before stretch marks start forming on your skin. Keeping this in mind, it would be better for you to start applying these creams once you find out that you are pregnant.

On the other hand, preventative stretch mark creams are supposed to be applied after you have given birth. So, you can use the cream to reduce the appearance of the stretch marks that have already appeared on your skin.

The best part about stretch mark creams is that they contain nourishing ingredients such as vitamin A, shea butter, herbal compound extracts, vitamin E, retinoids, and many others that can help to repair and replenish the skin. Remember to apply the cream religiously in order to see visible results.

Opting for Laser Treatment or Light Therapy

The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery has hailed laser treatment or light therapy as the only proven way of removing stretch marks within a short span of time. Laser treatment is a non-surgical procedure where the dermatologist uses a beam of light to break down your stretch marks. This, in turn, helps to enhance the natural texture of your skin giving you a more even and uniform appearance.

Even though this may sound intimidating, light therapy only takes about 30 minutes and you can instantly see the results without any downtime.

Consume Food Items That are Rich in Vitamin C and Vitamin D

Vitamin C and Vitamin D are really great and beneficial nutrients for your health and for your skin. Vitamin C is a nutrient that can help to increase the development of collagen in our skin while consuming vitamin D can be useful to reduce the risks of developing stretch marks.

You can incorporate a lot of citrus fruits like oranges and lemons in your diet to increase the intake of Vitamin C. There are also vegetables that are rich in this nutrient as well. As for vitamin D, you should spend an ample amount of time in sunlight but be careful to not overdo it. Food items like yogurt, milk, bread, and cereal can be great for increasing vitamin D levels in your body.

Massaging Coconut Oil on the Stretch Marks

Stretch marks involve scarred tissue damage. Since coconut oil has healing and restorative properties, it can help to promote the repair of the tears that occurred in your skin from pregnancy.

Before you go to sleep, massage a good amount of virgin coconut oil directly on your stretch marks to reduce their appearance. This will help to nourish your skin by improving the overall texture in an efficient manner as well.

People who are allergic to coconut need to be careful, hence, doing a patch test is recommended before applying it all over your body.