Are prominent stretch marks forcing you to cover up all the time? You can actually remove them naturally with Ayurveda’s ancient remedies.
According to Ayurvedic experts, paying attention to certain simple skin needs may help prevent the occurrence of stretch marks altogether. Read on to know the causes, preventive measures and natural remedies that can help remove stretch marks on your skin.
Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks
“ Kikkisa (stretch marks) are described under Garbhini praicharya (care and treatments for pregnant women). Use of Surasadi tailam, Manjishthadi tailam, Karanja oil and pastes of Varnya herbs like Chandana and Usheera can help lighten the marks.”
Dr. Zeel Gandhi (Bachelor Of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix
What Are Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks, medically termed as striae, are scars or marks that occur in areas where your skin has experienced rapid extension or contraction. Skin proteins such as collagen and elastin are responsible for your skin’s structure and elasticity.
Thus, when your skin is stretched, it returns to its original form. However, during a growth spurt, these proteins fail to keep pace, causing raised or indented lesions in the affected areas.
Stretch marks are highly common and can appear as a result of pregnancy, gain or loss of weight or muscle mass, puberty or certain health conditions. Frequently affected areas include the abdomen, buttocks, back, arms, calves, breasts, knees and thighs.
As per Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix,“Kikkisa (stretch marks) are described under Garbhini praicharya (care and treatments for pregnant women). Unfortunately, they are not limited to pregnant women. Stretch marks can appear at various sites which undergo fat accumulation and loss over a short span of time. Examples: arms, back, buttocks, thighs, etc. It can be prevented by keeping the skin supple, toned and well hydrated.”
Types Of Stretch Marks
These dermal lesions are mainly classified into 4 types according to their appearance:
1. Striae Rubrae
Striae rubrae  are formed in the early stages of striae distensae. These can be slightly raised and erythematous in appearance. These are usually aligned perpendicular to the direction your skin has been stretched. Striae rubrae are usually considered temporary stretch marks as they do not recur.
2. Striae Albae
These stretch marks, unlike striae rubrae, are pale colored, wrinkled and more permanent in nature.
3. Striae Nigrae
As the name suggests, striae nigrae are dark or black-colored stretch marks occurring as a result of dermal distension.
4. Striae Caerulea
Striae Caerulea are dark bluish or purple-toned stretch marks. Stretch marks can also be classified as per their epidemiology
5. Striae Gravidarum
Striae gravidarum  typically affects pregnant women as their skin stretches to allow the growth of the fetus.
6. Striae Atrophicans
This type of stretch mark is caused by skin atrophy or thinning. This thinning of the epidermis or dermis can be a cutaneous manifestation of internal health conditions such as Cushing Syndrome or long-term use/treatment with corticosteroids.
7. Striae Distensae
Striae distensae occurs during puberty or sudden weight loss or weight gain as the skin is forced to stretch at a rapid pace.
Ethnicity plays an important part in the pathogenesis of stretch marks. The severity of Striae distensae is reported to be higher in Black African women than in Caucasians within a certain geographical area.
Signs And Symptoms Of Stretch Marks
The signs and symptoms of stretch marks include:
- Indented red, black or hypopigmented, linear scars on your skin.
- Skin irritations and redness experienced prior to the occurrence of stretch marks.
- Skin thinning.
- Initially dark-toned streaks on your skin that gradually turn pale and wrinkled, giving your skin a glossy appearance.
Causes Of Stretch Marks
The common causes  of stretch marks are:
2. Sudden weight gain due to obesity.
3. Skin atrophy from prolonged corticosteroid treatments.
4. Cushing syndrome, a disease that increases cortisol levels in the body and weakens skin elasticity.
5. Rapid growth during puberty.
6. Increase of muscles from bodybuilding.
7. Ehlers Danlos syndrome, a condition that causes stretchy, fragile skin.
8. Marfan syndrome, which may lead to reduced skin elasticity and stretch marks due to damaged skin tissue. The hips and shoulders are the most commonly affected areas in this condition.
9. A family history of stretch marks is a major risk factor.
According to Ayurveda, a condition called ‘Kikkisa’ matches the definition of stretch marks as per modern science. It is known to be caused by an aggravation of the Kapha and Pitta doshas.
How To Remove Stretch Marks?
A. Natural Remedies For Stretch Marks
1. Oil Massages
Regular massages with the following oils have proven to reduce the appearance of stretch marks, especially in the initial stages:
Rosehip oil  is often added to anti-stretch mark creams and oils for its efficacy in controlling the severity of striae during pregnancy.
Stretch marks removal creams containing Punica Granatum seed oil  (pomegranate seed oil) help prevent skin atrophy and improve elasticity and hydration of skin affected by striae distensae.
A few drops of pomegranate seed oil can also be added to your regular body oil or moisturizer and applied over your stretch marks to expedite healing.
A study on the effect of dietary and topical application of argan oil showed improvement in skin elasticity and anti-aging effects. Cosmetic formulations with argan oil are also absorbed into the skin easily.
Thus, it is preferred by consumers to prevent the formation of stretch marks or as an early treatment  in the case of striae distensae rubra.
Studies show that topical application of tamanu oil or stretch mark creams containing tamanu oil can help to reduce the length and width of scars within a few months.
With its ability to stimulate collagen production, tamanu oil is often recommended as a natural treatment for stretch marks.
Bitter Almond Oil
A study conducted between February 2010 and April 2011 on a group of primiparous women in Turkey revealed that regular 15-minute massages with bitter almond oil prevented striae gravidarum or stretch marks during pregnancy.
About 5-6 drops of the above-mentioned oils can be diluted with 10 ml of a carrier oil such as castor, almond or olive oil and massaged daily for the treatment of your stretch marks.
2. Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera gel is a common home remedy for stretch marks on your legs, thighs, abdomen and other places. It is also a safe solution for teenage stretch marks. Aloe vera’s healing, moisturizing, nourishing and skin brightening properties can help rapidly improve the condition of stretch marks.
Some skin experts suggest gentle exfoliation for the removal of stretch marks. You can use natural ingredients such as sugar, coffee, oatmeal or masoor dal with milk, honey or coconut oil to mildly scrub the affected areas 3-4 times a week.
4. Onion Juice/ Lemon Juice / Potato Juice
Sulphurous compounds such as allicin , quercetin and others in onion juice, citric acid in lemon juice and natural enzymes in potato juice can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks when applied topically.
B. Ayurvedic Remedies For Stretch Marks
In the treatment of stretch marks, Ayurvedic remedies focus on balancing the Pitta and Kapha doshas, detoxifying your blood, lightening the lesions and promoting collagen production and skin healing.
Dr Zeel adds, “Use of Surasadi tailam, Manjishthadi tailam, Karanja oil and pastes of Varnya herbs like Chandana and Usheera can help lighten the marks.”
1. Gotu Kola And Sesame Oil
Add 2 tablespoons of gotu kola powder (centella asiatica)  to a sufficient amount of cold-pressed sesame oil to make a thick paste. Apply over your stretch marks and leave it on for 1 hour before washing off.
2. Neem, Tulsi And Khadira
Mix equal amounts of neem, tulsi and khadira powders and make a paste by adding coconut oil to it. Apply over the area affected by stretch marks and wash off after 1 hour.
3. Kumkumadi Tailam
Regular massages with Kumkumadi tailam can help lighten your stretch marks and improve your skin condition.
4. Sandalwood, Bark Of Shirisha And Usheera
Mix the ingredients in a powdered form equally. Add sesame oil, coconut oil or ghee to make a paste. Apply over the stretch marks on your body and leave it on for an hour before you wash off.
5. Yashtimadhu, Manjistha, Daruharidra And Ghee
Mix yashtimadhu, manjistha and daruharidra in equal measures and add a sufficient amount of ghee to make a paste. Apply this lepa regularly for an hour to quickly get rid of your stretch marks.
6. Oral Ayurvedic Medicines
Some oral medicines that may help treat your stretch marks are:
- Powder rock candy and turmeric together. Add some ghee and consume daily.
- Chandrakala rasa
- Consult your Ayurvedic doctor for the correct doses as per your unique Prakriti.
C. Medical Treatments For Stretch Marks
Retinoids, a type of vitamin A, increase your cell turnover rate when applied topically. This forces your skin to renew itself rapidly and can help fade your stretch marks. These are available as creams and ointments. Consult your doctor for the correct concentration according to the severity of your stretch marks.
2. Chemical Peels
Most chemical peels use salicylic or glycolic acid to gently peel off the uppermost damaged layer of your skin. A chemical peel can help remove or lighten your stretch marks.
Microdermabrasion uses the technique of exfoliation to gently sand away the upper layer of your skin. This can not only improve stretch marks on your thighs, buttocks and abdomen but also promote skin renewal. One may need more than one session depending upon the severity of their stretch marks.
4. PRP Treatment And Microneedling
The procedure of microneedling stimulates your skin’s natural wound healing. When combined with PRP (platelet-rich plasma) treatment, it further boosts collagen production and can dramatically reduce your stretch marks.
How To Prevent Stretch Marks?
1. At the start of pregnancy or during the period of bodybuilding, massage your stretch marks’ prone areas regularly with sesame oil. This helps prevent the appearance of stretch marks. You can also add herbs like turmeric, tulsi and manjistha to the sesame oil.
2. Avoid long-term use of corticosteroids.
3. Consult your doctor for proper diet and change of lifestyle in case of sudden weight gain.
4. Include Ayurvedic herbs in your skincare that boost the synthesis of skin collagen such as gotu kola and hibiscus.
5. Drink lots of water and moisturize your skin every day to prevent dehydration.
6. Include all skin-benefitting vitamins such as A, B, C, D and E along with zinc. A nutritious diet helps your skin renew and repair itself quickly.
7. Consume light, easy-to-digest foods that keep your doshas balanced.
8. Early treatment of stretch marks can also help prevent further aggravation and permanent scarring. Get in touch with your Ayurvedic doctor to understand the cause and best treatment options available for your skin type and Prakriti (body constitution).
Adding a few drops of vitamin E oil to your regular moisturizer can help improve the condition of stretch marks on your body.
Do Stretch Marks Go Away?
Though there are a variety of treatment options available, stretch marks are quite difficult to treat. Most stretch marks creams and oils can alleviate the redness and skin irritation associated with the condition and help fade the lesions to make them less noticeable. However, in most cases, a complete skin recovery is difficult to achieve.
When To See A Doctor About Stretch Marks?
While stretch marks are not harmful, at times they can be a sign of internal conditions that may call for medical supervision. Notify your doctor if you notice the sudden occurrence of stretch marks on your skin without conditions like pregnancy or weight gain. It is also important to consult your doctor before starting any anti-stretch marks treatment during pregnancy.
Frequently Asked Questions About Stretch Marks
1. How Long Do Stretch Marks Take To Fade?
Quickly addressing stretch marks in their initial stage can help speed-up their treatment. Stretch marks can take anywhere between 6 months to a year to fade. However, this also depends on the severity of your stretch marks and how effective the treatment plan is.
2. Can Losing Weight Reduce Stretch Marks?
Losing weight can definitely make you more healthy but it is unlikely to have much effect on your stretch marks. In fact, stretch marks formed during your weight gain period may become more prominent as you shed those extra pounds.
The Last Word
Though harmless, stretch marks can become an aesthetic nuisance for many people as they affect your appearance. In certain cases, such as during pregnancy, stretch marks may not be completely avoidable but with the right precautions and early treatment the severity of their appearance can be reduced.
So choose your treatment plan wisely, consult your Ayurvedic doctor and preferably opt for natural stretch marks remedies that are safe and have fewer post-treatment side-effects.Know Your Dosha Now
1. Stretch Marks, 2021 November
2. Different Types Of Stretch Marks
3. Topical Management Of Striae Distensae (Stretch Marks): Prevention And Therapy Of Striae Rubrae And Albae, 2016 February
4. Use Of A Specific Anti-Stretch Mark Cream For Preventing Or Reducing The Severity Of Striae Gravidarum. Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Trial, 2013 June
5. Improvement Of Skin Condition In Striae Distensae: Development, Characterization And Clinical Efficacy Of A Cosmetic Product Containing Punica Granatum Seed Oil And Croton Lechleri Resin Extract, 2017 February
6. Preliminary Study On The Development Of An Antistretch Marks Water-In-Oil Cream: Ultrasound Assessment, Texture Analysis, And Sensory Analysis, 2016 September
7. Onion (Allium Cepa) And Its Main Constituents As Antidotes Or Protective Agents Against Natural Or Chemical Toxicities: A Comprehensive Review, 2021
8. Creams For Preventing Stretch Marks In Pregnancy, 2000 February
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