There seems to be a cream for everything, so it makes perfect sense that you’d reach for one to try to tackle pregnancy stretch marks. Unfortunately, doing so may be like throwing your money out with your baby’s diaper (unless you use cloth, of course). Creams can moisturize your skin, but they can’t prevent or erase stretch marks.
Stretch marks are actually a type of scar called strriae. They happen during pregnancy because your skin stretches faster than your body can grow and repair it. Moisturizing your belly with creams doesn’t help because stretch marks aren’t caused by dry skin or dehydration, although those can contribute to stretch marks’ appearance. They most commonly occur on the belly, breasts, hips and thighs.
Not all creams and lotions have been tested and verified as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Stretch mark creams could contain varying levels of active ingredients, some of which could be herbs or chemicals you don’t want in your body. Remember, anything you slather on our body, you’re also slathering on your baby.
You may have heard rumors of a medically tested cream for stretch marks. There is one effective topical treatment called tretinoin. Unfortunately, tretinoin isn’t safe for pregnant women, according to MayoClinic.com. It may be something you consider after you give birth, if you’re not breastfeeding. Tretinoin can minimize the appearance of stretch marks by increasing your skin’s collagen production. It must be applied before the stretch marks reach six weeks old.
Odds are, if you’re going to get stretch marks, there’s not much you can do about it. Gaining weight at a slow and steady pace can help prevent them, but that’s not always up to you. Your little one and your waistline might start rapidly expanding, especially during the third trimester. The best thing you can do is to stay active and eat a nutritious diet that provides your skin with the zinc, hydration, and vitamins A, C and D it needs to prevent stretch marks.
If your stretch marks don’t fade over time after pregnancy, there are a few treatment options shown to significantly reduce stretch marks. Talk to your doctor about cosmetic procedures like microdermabrasion, dermabrasion, chemical peels and laser light therapies. Your insurance probably won’t cover these costly treatments, and they may not remove your stretch marks completely.