Stretch marks are a worry for many women during pregnancy. Unfortunately, genetics plays a big role in whether you’ll get these unsightly tiger stripes on your belly and breasts. Stretch mark creams can help to keep your skin moisturized and soft throughout your pregnancy, improving its elasticity. They may also reduce the tenderness and discomfort that accompanies stretch marks some of the time. How soon you start stretch mark cream is up to you, but starting it earlier rather than later can help. Additional treatments are an option postpartum.
Stretch marks, or striae, occur when the middle layer of skin, the dermis, stretches so quickly that it tears. These tears do not reach the outer layer of skin, but they do form visible lines or scars under the skin. Approximately 50 percent to 75 percent of women will get at least some stretch marks during pregnancy, according to the Women’s Health Care Topics website. Rapid weight gain at other times in life may also cause stretch marks.
Stretch mark creams claim to prevent and treat stretch marks. Some stretch mark creams are simply heavy moisturizers, often containing cocoa butter and Vitamin E. Others rely upon collagen-building ingredients to repair the middle layers of the skin and reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Be sure that the treatment you choose is appropriate for use during pregnancy. Save more aggressive treatments for postpartum use.
You can begin using a moisturizing stretch mark cream or oil designed for pregnancy early on in your pregnancy. Ask your mother when she began noticing stretch marks during her own pregnancy as genetics plays a role, according to the Baby Center website. Massage it into your belly, breasts, hips and thighs. Massaging the skin with a cream or oil will help to increase blood flow, reduce the tension on the skin and improve elasticity, according to the Women’s Health Care Topics website.
During pregnancy, stretch mark creams work by moisturizing the skin to preserve its elasticity. After pregnancy, you can choose to continue with moisturizing treatments as your stretch marks fade or opt for a slightly more aggressive approach. If you are not breastfeeding, your dermatologist can prescribe a retinoid product, like Retin-A for your stretch marks, according to the Mayo Clinic.
While there’s no perfect solution to stretch marks, there are things you can do during pregnancy to reduce them. Keep your weight gain within medical guidelines, according to the Mayo Clinic. Stay well hydrated and eat a healthy diet, for the sake of both your baby and your postpartum belly.