Pregnancy can be a metamorphosis of sorts for women as they go through both mental and physical transformation. The process of bringing a new life to this world is challenging, as much as it is rewarding and that often puts you in the most testing phase of your life.
This is especially true in the second trimester when the bump is obvious, the baby has more formed growth, and the labour day looks eerily close with those one-off Braxton Hicks contractions.
Another reminder of this physical transformation are the red stretch marks that start developing on different parts of your body.
The rather unpleasant sight can be a put-off for many mums. Nevertheless, it’s a part of the pregnancy process and they do disappear with time.
But why do you develop red stretch marks and what can you do about them? Read on to know more.
What Are Red Stretch Marks?
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Red stretch marks, also known as striae rubrae, are breaks or lesions that occur due to the rapid increase in the size of a person skin due to underlying growth.
So, when a mum’s belly starts expanding in the second trimester, there’s a good chance it’ll show red stretch marks all over. Thankfully, these marks are benign and not harmful.
Where Do Stretch Marks Occur On The Body?
Red stretch marks will most likely occur on the abdomen and hips due to rapid stretching, but they can also occur on the thighs, breasts, arms, upper arms, and buttocks.
A 2016 study states that red stretch marks occur during the acute phase of this stretching, while white stretch marks, also known as striae albae, are characteristic of the chronic phase. In simpler terms, it’s like your skin’s way of showing a fresh injury by turning red and later fading to white as they heal over time.
Stretch marks can vary in colour starting from red to pink, purple, blue and black. In most cases, the stretch marks do heal and eventually turn white before fading away with time.
Red stretch marks though can leave grooves in the skin as they fade to white. The American Academy of Dermatology Association also suggests that the red marks may be itchy and appear slightly raised.
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What Causes Red Stretch Marks During Pregnancy?
Women usually undergo weight gain during pregnancy in the second and third trimester, which is when the red stretch marks start appearing. The body sees rapid growth to accommodate the extra mass, particularly around the abdomen, thigh and hip areas.
Meanwhile, other women and men could see red stretch on their bodies due to a growth spurt, particularly during adolescence while weight gain can be contributing factor at any age.
Women who pursue breast augmentation are also likely to see red stretch marks, which may depend on the elasticity of the skin.
People suffering from genetic issues like Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Cushing syndrome are also at risk of developing stretch marks. In some cases, stretch marks can be a hereditary problem passed on in families.
How Do You Treat Red Stretch Marks?
While stretch marks – red or white – will fade away over time, you cannot get completely rid of them. What you can do is try dermatological treatments that will lighten their appearance to make them less noticeable.
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Some of the most common treatments for include:
Topical retinoid creams come from vitamin A and may help reduce the redness of stretch marks. For white stretch marks though, the cream may have little to no difference.
For those looking to try retinol creams, make sure to consult your doctor about the same.
Laser procedures are determined to be the most effective way to reduce the appearance of stretch marks on the body. The procedure works by firing rapid pulses of light to destroy the damaged skill at the surface.
However, laser treatment is not recommended for all skin types due to hyperpigmentation or lack of effect. Make sure to speak to your doctor and understand the risks, side effects and precautions necessary when pursuing laser procedures.
Another way to reduce the appearance of stretch marks is microdermabrasion, which is essentially sanding the top layer of your skin.
This procedure uses small crystals to buff off the dead skin cells and reveal smoother skin underneath. The crystals are available for purchase over-the-counter, while certain salons also offer it as a treatment option.
Over-the-counter (OTC) creams
Other over-the-counter options include buying moisturisers with cocoa butter, coconut or olive oil, and vitamin E, all of which promise to reduce stretch marks on the body.
However, no single therapy has been advocated to completely eradicate marks with OTC creams not demonstrating any effect.
Products with glycolic acid can be an alternative to smooth out the stretch marks on the skin. These acids are used in chemical peels that are more invasive methods to remove the dead skins off the top layer.
For permanent stretch marks, body makeup can help reduce the same visually. Make sure to invest in waterproof makeup so it can survive heat and humidity for a longer period. Do note that constant application can have adverse effects on the skin in the long run.
Red stretch marks are a part of the birthing process and will eventually fade out. However, if the redness does not disappear, consider speaking to your doctor. You may need additional nutrition in your diet and skincare.
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