What is a stretch mark?
Stretch marks, or striae, are a type of scarring that can occur when skin stretches beyond its limits. Stretch marks appear as faint lines that are typically reddish or purple in color. Some women will develop stretch marks during pregnancy and others will not. Stretch marks tend to be hereditary. If the expecting woman’s mother developed stretch marks during her pregnancy, there is a greater chance she will as well. While stopping the development of stretch marks is impossible, there are a few tricks that can be used to keep stretch marks to a minimum during pregnancy.
What causes stretch marks and what can help?
Gaining weight is the main reason stretch marks occur. The faster a pregnant woman gains weight, the faster stretch marks will develop. Gradual weight gain allows the skin enough time for the skin to stretch and repair. This will not prevent stretch marks from occurring, but it may keep their depth and width to a minimum. Moisturizing skin is also an important deterrent for stretch marks. Dry skin is not as elastic as moisturized skin and thus has difficulty stretching as the uterus or other parts of the body grows, leading to stretch marks.
The old wives tales of eating more fruit and rubbing olive oil on the tummy to prevent stretch marks will not work for every woman, but the fruit is a healthy addition to any pregnancy diet and olive oil makes a great moisturizer.