How to Get Rid of Stretch Marks and Prevent Them (the Natural Way)
Stretch marks. They can happen to anyone—and often do. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about them.
While stretch marks are in no way harmful to your health, they can be itchy, uncomfortable, and downright unsightly. They can also be a source of anxiety.
Anyone can be at risk for developing stretch marks, and once you have them, it can be hard to get rid of them. The good news? There are things you can do to prevent them from appearing in the first place and a few remedies to help you get rid of them when they strike.
What Are Stretch Marks and What Causes Them?
Depending on your skin tone, stretch marks are narrow reddish, purple, pink, or white streaks, stripes, or lines that appear on the surface of the skin. They often show up on the arms, legs, thighs, bottom, breasts or tummy. While stretch marks do show up on men, they overwhelmingly affect caucasian women.
To be specific, stretch marks are a loss of collagen that causes scarring in the dermis, which is the connective tissue just beneath the outer layer of skin. They’re the result of the skin being quickly stretched during periods of extreme weight gain followed by weight loss, such as pregnancy, or during growth spurts like puberty. For men, stretch marks typically happen during rapid muscle-building from strength training, when the muscles bulk up. Stretch marks can happen to anyone.
A recent study found that over 50 percent of expecting women suffer from them, as the skin stretches at such a rapid rate during pregnancy. (1)
Women who have a family history of stretch marks or a history of delivering large babies or twins can be more prone to developing stretch marks. And anyone, regardless of skin type, using corticosteroid medications can be at a higher risk of developing stretch marks because these hormones can break down the collagen in your skin after prolonged use. (2)
Fortunately, there are some natural ways in which you can help prevent stretch marks from showing up in the first place—and it all starts with your diet.
How to Prevent Stretch Marks
How you treat your body, what you eat, and what you drink are directly correlated with how your skin looks and feels. Why? Because good nutrition is good skin care, keeping skin elastic and firm.
Eating a healthy diet to prevent sudden weight gain or loss is the no-brainer way to stop your skin from stretching out. But if you’re a kid going through puberty or a pregnant woman, there’s no way you’re not going to gain weight fast. Here’s what you can do.
At the most basic level, staying hydrated is one of the best ways to keep your skin supple and elastic, which will help guard against the tearing of the skin. Staying hydrated means drinking at least an eight-ounce glass of water morning and night and two at every meal. While everybody has different hydration needs, it’s easy to get a hold of how much water you should be drinking every day to stay perfectly hydrated.
An often forgotten way to stay hydrated is to avoid certain foods or drinks that might actually dehydrate you, including coffee, soda, alcohol, and tea. While it might be impossible to cut these things out altogether (hello, Monday), limiting your intake go could a long way in reducing future harm to your skin.
Drink bone broth
Another great way to stay hydrated? Drinking bone broth. But bone broth gets its own category because it offers so much more than that. Not only will sipping bone broth help you reach your required daily liquid intake, it also has the added benefit of infusing your body with collagen, which improves the elasticity of your skin. Collagen and elastin fibers in the skin are necessary to keep rapidly growing skin taut. Bone broth also contains a number of key vitamins and minerals than can restore depleted nutrients and make your skin altogether more resilient.
In addition to helping control weight, exercise is one of the best ways to improve circulation, which keeps skin elastic and less susceptible to tearing during changes. (3)
In case you needed an excuse to fit relaxation into your regular routine, massage is another proven way to help improve blood circulation and therefore the elasticity of your skin.
Moisturizing your body thoroughly from the outside can also help trap moisture within. Natural creams and oils, like cocoa butter or coconut oil, work wonders in keeping the skin smooth.
How to Get Rid of Stretch Marks Naturally
While preventing stretch marks is your best bet, hydration and moisturizing are also good ways to get rid of them once they’ve appeared. Here are a few way to tackle stretch marks the natural way:
1. Use moisturizing oils and rubs
Specific stretch mark creams are mostly a gimmick. If you’re going try moisturizing as a solution, olive oil, castor oil, vitamin E oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, chamomile cream, almond oil, and aloe vera gel are all great options to keep your skin smooth and supple while also infusing it with key vitamins to help it heal.
Aloe vera in particular has been used on skin for decades to help heal and reduce the scarring of stretch marks. Coconut oil has also been found to improve skin elasticity and increase regeneration of skin cells. (4) Applying any one of these things to the affected area in circular motions on a regular basis can help stretch marks fade.
2. Drink bone broth
Just as drinking bone broth can help prevent stretch marks from forming, it can also help heal them. Bone broth provides one of the best sources of collagen available, and drinking it can help the skin heal and minimize the appearance of stretch marks. Two recent studies found that consuming collagen can lead to an increase in skin moisture and collagen density, as well as a reduction in collagen degradation. (5)
3. Eat a diet rich in vitamin K
Vitamin K has been found to speed up wound healing, improve circulation, and aid in the healing of stretch marks, among other skin conditions. (6) The best natural sources of vitamin K—which also happen to be full of antioxidants—include all the leafy greens, such as kale, spinach and swiss chard, as well as vegetables like brussels sprouts and scallions.
Other Ways to Get Rid of Stretch Marks
Other natural home remedies that are circulating the internet are topically applied potions made from lemon juice, egg whites, potato juice, and cucumber juice.
While there’s little scientific evidence to back these remedies, there are many sources that swear by them. Stretch marks do fade over time on their own, so sometimes a little patience might be your best solution.
However, if you’re ready to get rid of stretch marks fast and don’t have time to experiment with natural remedies, there are some clinical solutions.
Laser therapy, chemical peels, and surgery are considered the most effective ways to remove stretch marks because they force healing of the skin.
With laser treatment, doctors use very fine lasers to reach deep into the skin’s middle layer to remove damaged tissue and rebuild it using fresh collagen. While this process doesn’t remove the stretch marks altogether, it can improve their appearance. Surgery works in a similar way, but it can put you at risk of scarring. Chemical peels are the least invasive solution, since they only require applying a chemical solution to the skin. This solution causes the outer layers to separate and slough off, therefore helping lighten the skin. Before going down any of these routes, we suggest trying to prevent and heal stretch marks the natural way.
Whatever you choose to do, remember that stretch marks will eventually fade over time. For some people, they go away altogether as the skin returns to its original size. Either way, it’s important to remember that stretch marks are just on the outside. What matters most is that you’re healthy and strong from the inside out.