Stretch Marks

Stretch marks on the skin are more common in women than men, and vary in size and shape.

Symptoms

Wavy marks on the abdomen, breasts, buttocks and thighs
Purplish-red in colour to start, gradually fading to white and becoming less noticeable over a period of 6-12 months

Causes

Stretch marks are caused by rapid weight gain, with pregnancy and puberty being the most common times for them to occur.

When the body goes through a spurt of growing faster on the inside than the skin on the outside can keep up with, the fibrous and elastic layers deep in the skin stretch and tear. The stretch marks which form in the area are actually scar tissue which forms to heal the tears.

Stretch marks may also appear as a result of certain diseases of hormonal imbalance, such as Cushing’s syndrome, and as a side-effect of certain steroid medications, such as prednisone.

Deficiency of zinc has also been associated with the development of stretch marks.

Natural Therapies

If you develop stretch marks easily, you may be deficient in the mineral zinc which is essential for skin repair; HINT: for best results choose a supplement with added magnesium and vitamin B6 for optimum absorption
Vitamin C is important as it helps maintain the skin’s elasticity via its role in collagen production

Lifestyle Factors

Once a stretch mark has developed, it is permanent – no amount of massage will make it disappear.

Remedies

Avoid putting on weight quickly by maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle. Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds and avoid fatty foods. Drinking around two litres of water per day is also an important part of keeping within your healthy weight range. If you are pregnant consider taking a special multi-vitamin and mineral formula containing zinc to ensure you are getting adequate nutrition for you and your baby.

Regular exercise is also essential. Don’t forget to consult your healthcare professional before commencing a new exercise program – particularly if you are pregnant.

Be sure to wear a well-fitted and comfortable bra to support your breasts during pregnancy and breast-feeding.

Important Notes

Consult your healthcare professional if you suddenly develop large numbers of stretch marks – this may be a sign of certain hormonal diseases.

If you are taking steroidal medication and develop stretch marks, these may be side effects of your medicine – consult your healthcare professional for more information.

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