As a small child grows, his weight increases; so the skin has to stretch to accommodate this gradual, albeit massive, increase in mass. At times, especially when there is a spurt in growth, the growth of skin fails to cope with the growth of the body. The stretch forces the elastic fibers to rupture, resulting in stretch marks or striae. Stretch marks aren’t just a superficial disruption of the topmost layer of the skin. They actually occur throughout the entire thickness of the skin, all the way to the very deepest layers, when skin is stretched beyond its capacity. That’s why they can be so pronounced – the skin is actually damaged as the elements that give the skin its flexibility are overextended. When skin is stressed and stretched this far especially if it is already dry, weakened, undernourished or prone to damage, the underlying collagen and elastin fibers break down.
During the adolescent growth spurt about half of all children develop stretch marks. Varying in length, they are pink to start with and invariably fade to white scars as years go by. Finally they become wrinkled and papery and are then barely perceptible. Adolescent boys usually develop striae on their backs, buttocks and abdomen, while girls develop the marks on their breasts as well. Women also develop stretch marks on the tummy and breasts during pregnancy.
The best solution to not having stretch marks is to prevent them from showing up at all. The trick is to keep your skin healthy and increase its elasticity.
Steps towards this goal are:
l Drink six to eight glasses of water each day to keep skin nourished.
l Keep the skin well moisturized with products that promote suppleness.
l Use essential oils that penetrate the skin and leave it very flexible.
Neroli oil and St. John’s wort are cited as two of the most effective oils in combating stretch marks. Either purchase a pre – made blend or make your own with the following recipe: take 50 ml. of wheat germ oil and add 15 drops of neroli oil and 10 drops of lavender oil. Massage into skin daily after bathing.
Though there is no certain way of preventing or removing stretch marks, scores of preparations are available on the market. Creams with exotic additives like collagen or vitamin ‘A’ allantoin are as good or as bad as plain moisturizing creams in preventing stretch marks. Gentle exercising of the abdominal muscles is suggested to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. Once the marks have developed, the most effective way to deal with them is by using unani herbal preparations. Many patients want to know about the efficacy of surgery. Surgery is definitely not advised, as the scars of surgery may eventually be more noticeable. Applying herbal remedies is the best available solution to treat stretch marks.
Neroli oil and St. John’s wort are cited as two of the most effective oils in combating stretch marks.
During the adolescent growth spurt about half of all children develop stretch marks.
-Dr. Achala Agarwal