Stretch marks are like little souvenirs from life’s milestones. Puberty, pregnancy, weight loss and weight gain all may leave behind these indentation lines on the skin. While most people aren’t immune from them, it’s best to treat stretch marks as soon as you notice them. This not only helps prevent more from showing up, but it will also help treat the existing stretch marks.
Maintain Current Weight, or Lose Weight
When stretch marks appear, it’s most often because you’ve experienced rapid weight gain. To prevent the stretch marks from getting worse, stop any additional weight gain. If you’re purposely trying to build muscle mass, consider slowing your routine down so your skin has time to acclimate. If the weight gain is a result of increased fat, make an effort to maintain or lose weight. Obviously, maintaining or losing weight isn’t the ideal solution if have a preexisting health condition or are pregnant. In those cases, you’ll need to rely on other prevention methods.
Creams, oils or ointments loaded with vitamin E condition the skin and may help reduce the appearance of current stretch marks. You should apply topically to the affected area at least once per day. Note that tests proving whether vitamin E can reduce stretch marks aren’t 100 percent conclusive—nothing has been proven to prevent or fade them completely—but the vitamin can still benefit the skin in other ways and won’t harm it.
Stay Fully Hydrated
Keeping skin well hydrated not only makes it more pliable than dehydrated skin, but it also makes it less prone to stretch marks. While drinking eight glasses of water daily is mostly a myth, it’s still important to keep skin hydrated. In addition to drinking water each day, up your fluids when you exercise or spend time outdoors. This keeps your entire body and your skin hydrated.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
You can find alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) over the counter, or you can get a more concentrated prescription AHA chemical peel from your dermatologist. This ingredient works best to reduce the appearance of current stretch marks. It does so by exfoliating the uppermost layer of your skin to soften, tighten and reduce pigmentation. AHAs may also result in greater skin elasticity, which helps prevent the onset of new stretch marks.
This article has been reviewed by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Emmy Graber.