Whether it be during puberty, pregnancy or sudden weight gain or loss, most of us have had to battle with stretch marks at some point in our lives. And it is something that makes us quite conscious about our bodies.
“Though stretch marks are permanent changes in the structure of the skin and cannot be erased, its appearance can be minimized,” says Saprina Shrestha, fitness trainer at The Pump. “In most cases, stretch marks appear because of sudden change in weight. If you are trying to lose weight, then do it gradually as slow changes in the body does not strain the skin as compared to sudden change,” she says.
Shrestha says that even in case of stretch marks, prevention is definitely better than cure. “If you follow a healthy diet then you are less likely to develop stretch marks over time,” she says. A healthy diet for good skin should comprise of food containing Vitamin A, C, and E. For example, carrots, green vegetables, and fruits like oranges should be included in your daily diet.
These foods moisturize the skin from within that helps in the easy expansion during sudden weight gain or loss.
Also, lack of water in body promotes easy tearing of skin. Hence, drinking enough water daily will keep your skin supple and less prone to the tears associated with stretch marks. Also, if you are pregnant, make sure you use medicated lotions and creams beforehand to reduce stretch marks. “This will simultaneously regenerate the skin during expansion preventing stretch marks in the long run,” says Shrestha.
But in case you already have stretch marks, then Shrestha recommends some simple home remedies to help you lighten the scars. However, as with all home remedies these take time and you have to be disciplined enough to keep at it even when you don’t see any visible results in a day or two. Shrestha guarantees that you will notice changes in the appearance of marks with regular application.
Lemon is naturally acidic in nature. “We know that lemon juice is used for various skin problems. Stretch marks are also one of them,” says Shrestha. Lemon juice works wonders in reducing marks and scars.
All you have to do is squeeze the juice of a fresh lemon and gently apply it around the mark in circular motions. “Let it sit for 10 minutes. Your skin should absorb the juice,” she says adding that you can rinse it off with warm water after that. Repeating the process every day will definitely lighten and slowly get rid of your stretch marks.
Regular application of olive oil can also help lighten marks and scars. “Olive works as a lubricant for skin supplying enough nutrients to heal the marks,” says Shrestha. For this, you need to first heat the oil a little and then massage it on the marks for a few minutes.
You have to let the skin absorb the oil completely and for that gentle massage is required. You have to do this twice a day to see the results.
“Aloe Vera has soothing properties that has the potential to reduce stretch marks,” she says. One can simply apply store bought aloe vera gel in the affected area and let it dry for ten to fifteen minutes. “If your skin feels sticky afterwards then wash it with lukewarm water,” she explains. However, you have to follow this procedure at least two to three times a day if you want your stretch marks to disappear completely over time.
Cut a potato into thick slices. Do not wash it but instead apply the starch that oozes out from it all over your skin for few minutes. “The vitamins and minerals in potato regenerates new skin over the marks,” she says adding that one can also apply potato starch on the marks before going to bed and leave it overnight for added effect.
According to Shrestha, shea butter acts as the super food to heal sensitive skin and scars. Products containing shea butter can be found in stores around Kathmandu but make sure you pick a good quality brand. Shea butter hydrates and locks moistures in the skin and this will help reduce the appearance of stretch marks after regular use. “Apply some shea butter lotion over the marks and gently massage it for a few minutes,” she says. You can opt to rinse if it feels sticky or simply let it be. “I’d recommend you apply this cream before you go to bed,” she adds.
Baking soda helps in exfoliating the skin and removes dead cells. For this, mix a tablespoon of baking soda with body wash or with soapsuds in a small piece of cotton cloth. Then scrub the marks for a few minutes before you hop into the shower. “Do this everyday for a week or two and you will notice that your scars and marks will have lightened. But don’t continue doing it if you develop some rash or itchiness,” she concludes.