Preventing Stretchmarks in Pregnancy: 4 Tips From the Experts

pregnant stretchmarksStretchmarks and pregnancy. Two words in the English language that go hand in hand ... for most women anyway. Dubbed striae gravidarum by doctors, they occur in as much as 80 percent of pregnancies. And they show up EVERYWHERE.

"The most common area is the abdomen, second is the breast tissue, and third is the thighs," explains Julie Moore, MD, a dermatologist a Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Illinois.

So what causes them? And more importantly, can you prevent them?

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According to Moore, pregnant women get stretchmarks due to "genetics and hormones, among other medical reasons." We're not alone -- folks of both sexes tend to develop stretchmarks during puberty as growth occurs, weight lifters will get them as their muscles expand and stretch skin, and they also occur in overweight people.

But pregnant women are at a particular risk.

So can you keep them at bay? No, you can't -- not according to Moore and Dr. Eric Newman of Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. Both medical experts say stretchmarks are often simply a part of life.

Sorry, Mom!

BUT both do offer hope. You can attempt to minimize stretchmarks with the following:

Pregnancy Stretchmarks Tips to Keep Them at Bay

1. Keep weight in the healthy range. Stretchmarks are "a breakdown in the connective tissue, skin fibers, and collagen in the skin," Moore says. The more weight you put on, the more stretching of the skin occurs.

2. Avoid corticosteroids. They may promise great things but, according to Newman, "steroid medications may decrease the strength of the elastic fibers in the dermis of your skin leading to stretchmarks."

3. Stay well hydrated. It may be tempting to reduce your liquid intake when you constantly have someone bouncing on your bladder, but Newman says keeping skin hydrated can help minimize stretchmarks.

4. Try hydrating and antioxidant lotions. Dr. Newman warns there are no "proven preventative methods," but there is hope. "Certain hydrating lotions containing antioxidants have been reported to show benefit." He specifically suggests lotions with various organic oils and butters and those containing antioxidant vitamins A, C & E.

Do you have stretchmarks? What have you been doing to keep them away?

 

Images via © skynesher/iStock; © PonyWang/iStock

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