Stretch marks could be most described as nuisance to many people, especially Africans, who might have tried several ways to eliminate them without a lasting solution. They are usually linear, smooth bands on the skin, which depending on skin colour, can appear as red or purple and which fade over time to leave silvery pale marks.
According to available statistics, it occurs in 40-90% of women, stretch marks appear following rapid repeated over-stretching of the skin over weak connective tissue. The most common areas affected are the: #Abdomen #Breasts #Hips #Flank #Buttock and the #Thighs.
Although several creams, gels, lotions, laser and cosmetic surgery have all been proposed as treatments for stretch marks, but there is little medical evidence to support the efficacy of such treatments, as studies have shown that current treatments are particularly limited in their ability to deliver long-lasting improvements for all skin types.
However, studies have validated the use of Bitter almond oil, Tretinoin cream (retinoic acid) and Silicone gel as effective natural methods of treating stretch marks.
In a report compiled by MNT, the following were propounded as effective natural remediesfor stretch marks.
A study aiming to identify the effect of applying bitter almond oil with and without massage for preventing stretch marks during pregnancy found that a 15-minute massage applied with almond oil during pregnancy reduced the development of stretch marks.
Applying bitter almond oil without massage had no apparent effect, however, leading the authors of this study to conclude that those who are pregnant should be informed of the positive effects of massaging with applied almond oil early in pregnancy.
Tretinoin cream (retinoic acid)
Studies indicate that the topical application of tretinoin significantly improves the clinical appearance of early stretch marks, although the process responsible for the clinical improvement is unknown.
In one study, tretinoin reduced the length of the stretch marks by 14% and the width by 8% after six months of treatment. In another study, 12-weeks of treatment decreased the length of stretch marks by 20%.
However, products containing retinoic acid are teratogenic (can result in congenital defects) and should not be used by anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding. Tretinoin is extensively used in the treatment of acne (as Retin-A) and in the treatment of stretch marks.
jAlthough alternative therapies in the treatment of stretch marks have been faulted due to lack of empirical evidence, but there are proven preventive measures.
Experts have advised the maintenance of a healthy weight, avoidance yo-yo dieting, eating of balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals – particularly vitamins A and C and the minerals zinc and silicon for healthy skin. More importantly, women are advised to aim for slow and gradual weight gain during pregnancy and drink plenty of water (6-8 glasses daily).