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Why do Stretch Marks Appear during Pregnancy?

Thursday March 26, 2020
Why do Stretch Marks Appear during Pregnancy?

In a trial during pregnancy, the application of oil topically significantly improved the appearance of stretch marks 


What are stretch marks? 

Stretch marks, also known as striae, are a form of scarring on the skin and are often caused by sudden growth or weight gain. Therefore, these often appear on the stomach during pregnancy while the abdomen is growing.

Should I be concerned?  

Stretch marks are harmless and usually become less visible over time. They can, however, be visible in varying colours from more discrete silver or brown shades to more obvious pink or purple tones. It is estimated that up to 90% of women develop stretch marks during pregnancyi

What are the signs of stretch marks?  

The first sign of the skin ‘stretching’ is itchiness around the area where the skin is thinning. This then leads to the middle layer of skin, known as the dermis becoming stretched and torn in places leading to the stretched skin appearance. Often, after the baby is born, the marks become less noticeable and paler, however, they do not usually completely disappear.  

Can I avoid stretch marks?

Unfortunately, there is no real way of avoiding stretch marks during pregnancy, the development of these can differ from person-to person depending on the elasticity of their skin. Topical oil has been studied in relation to reducing the appearance of stretch marks. In a cross-sectional survey, it was found that 78% of women had used some form of topical application to prevent the development and appearance of stretch marksii. In a human clinical trial during pregnancy, the application of oil topically significantly improved the appearance of stretch marks.iii 


Author: Aimée Benbow, BSc (Hons), MSc, ANutr. is Technical Director at Viridian Nutrition. 


i) Atwal, G.S.S.; Manku, L.K.; Griffiths, C.E.M.; Polson, D.W. (2006). "Striae gravidarum in primiparae". British Journal of Dermatology. 155 (5): 965–9.


ii) Brennan, M., Clarke, M. and Devane, D., 2016. The use of anti stretch marks’ products by women in pregnancy: a descriptive, cross-sectional survey. BMC pregnancy and childbirth, 16(1), p.276.


iii)Summers, B., 2009. The effect of a topically-applied cosmetic oil formulation on striae distensae. South African Family Practice, 51(4).


The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.


TAGS: PregnancyNews


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