Srectch marks also called striae distensae or striae gravidarum, look like indented streaks in your skin. They may be red, purple, or silver in appearance. Stretch marks most often appear on the:
They’re common in pregnancy, but anyone can develop stretch marks in any phase of life. Some people are more susceptible to them. If your mom, dad, grandparents, or other blood relative has stretch marks, you’re more likely to get them.
Even if you’re at increased risk of stretch marks, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk and treat the stretch marks you already have.
One of the most helpful things you can do to prevent stretch marks, whether you’re pregnant or not, is to maintain a healthy weight. Stretch marks can happen when your skin pulls apart quickly due to rapid weight gain. You may also notice stretch marks after rapid weight loss. Some people develop stretch marks during growth spurts, such as during puberty. Other people, like bodybuilders, notice them after big gains from working out or using steroids.
Working to control body changes from happening too quickly may be your best bet. Eat a healthy diet and exercise to help you manage your weight. If you do notice rapid weight gain or weight loss, it may be a good idea to visit your doctor to find out why.
Drinking enough water may help keep your skin hydrated and soft. Soft skin doesn’t tend to develop stretch marks as much as dry skin does. The Institute of Medicine’s current recommendations for daily water intake are 104 ounces for men and 72 ounces for women.
Drinking caffeinated beverages, like coffee, may actually increase your risk of developing stretch marks. If you drink coffee, make sure you’re balancing out your fluid intake with plenty of water, herbal tea, and other caffeine-free fluids.
Stretch marks may also occur if you lack nutrition in certain areas. Eating foods that boost skin health may help. Make sure your diet includes foods rich in:
- vitamin C
- vitamin D
- vitamin E
One way to make sure you’re getting a variety of nutrients is to choose unprocessed foods in various colors. For example, a breakfast of eggs, whole wheat toast, and mixed berries adds many colors to your plate while packing in a variety of nutrients.
Collagen plays a role in keeping your skin strong and elastic. It helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles, but it may also be important for preventing stretch marks.
Vitamin C is an important nutrient for the development of collagen. Vitamin C can be found in many fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons, are especially good sources of vitamin C.
One study found a correlation between low levels of vitamin D and the incidence of stretch marks. More research is needed, but results suggest that maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D may reduce your risk of stretch marks.
The easiest way to get vitamin D is through exposure to the sun. The vitamin is also commonly added to bread, cereal, and dairy products like milk or yogurt.
Zinc is an important nutrient for skin health. It helps reduce inflammation and plays a role in the wound healing process. There is very little evidence to date of a connection between zinc and stretch marks, but including zinc-rich foods in your diet, such as nuts and fish, may help keep your skin healthy.
If you can’t totally prevent stretch marks on your skin, you can work to minimize their appearance so they aren’t as noticeable in the long run. Make an appointment with your doctor or a dermatologist to discuss your options if you have fresh stretch marks. Your doctor can help determine what is causing your marks, and they may be able to suggest treatment options that work best on new stretch marks.