Stretch marks are formed due to sudden shrinkage or expansion of the skin. This sudden change causes the collagen and elastin present in the skin layers to rupture. Stretch marks are formed as a result of healing.
Stretch marks can be red, purple, pink, reddish-brown, dark brown, and itchy, depending on your skin tone.
Causes of pregnancy stretch marks
During pregnancy, skin adapts to continuous movement by expanding and contracting. As the body expands faster, the skin has insufficient time to adjust. Due to this, skin tears at micro levels result in a scar known as a stretch mark.
Stretch marks are also formed due to hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy. The increased level of hormones tends to attract more water into the skin.
This loosens the bonds between collagen fibers (protein present under the skin). Thus making it easier for the skin to tear and resulting in the formation of stretch marks.
When and how do they form
Generally, for most women, stretch marks are formed during the later trimesters of the pregnancy (around the sixth or seventh month). Some might get them as soon as their bellies start growing.
The color of the stretch marks depends upon your skin tone. Most lighter skin toned women tend to develop pinkish stretch marks. Whereas darker skin toned women tend to develop stretch marks lighter than the surrounding skin.
Stages of stretch marks development during pregnancy
This is during the initial phase of the development of the stretch marks. Early stretch marks usually form in pink color and also may be itchy. The skin immediate to the stretch marks may look flattened and thin.
These are developed after stage 1. The stretch marks gradually enlarge in length and width direction. The color usually develops into a red or purple color.
After stage 2, the mature stretch marks lose their reddish-pink color. Later months after pregnancy (postpartum), the stretch starts to fade and become pale white or silver. These also appear slightly depressed and irregular in shape or length.
Where do stretch marks form?
Generally, most women develop stretch marks on their abdomen during pregnancy. However, getting them on thighs, buttocks, breasts, hips, and lower back is very common. Stretch marks most likely appear in places where large amounts of fat can be stored.
How to reduce stretch marks
One of the best things to ensure that your skin maintains good elasticity throughout the pregnancy. This can be achieved by keeping your skin well hydrated and supple all the time.
How to keep your skin supple
Collagen and elastin fibers are necessary to keep your skin stronger and less prone to breakage. So eat foods rich in Vitamin E and C, zinc, and silica, which help form collagen.
Vitamin C is an important antioxidant that helps to protect your skin from damage. Drink adequate water and take fluids to maintain hydrated and healthy skin.