Stretch marks are very common in pregnancy — approximately 8 out of 10 pregnant women develop stretch marks.
Stretch marks are especially common in the third trimester when your belly stretches to make room for your little one, who is growing a whole lot larger right now.
What are stretch marks?
As your tummy grows during pregnancy, your skin may develop narrow streak-like lines called stretch marks. They tend to be pink, red, purple, reddish-brown, or dark brown, depending on your skin colour. They usually appear on your stomach, buttocks, breasts, or thighs.
What causes stretch marks?
Stretch marks don't just affect pregnant women; they can develop whenever the skin is stretched.1,2 For instance, you can develop stretch marks during:
- Puberty, when the growth spurts happen
- Weight training, when you have rapid muscle growth
- Rapid weight gain or weight loss
Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy make you more susceptible to stretch marks.
Are there any risk factors?
There is no telling if you'll develop stretch marks; however, the following factors may increase your likelihood of getting them:
- Maternal and family history of stretch marks
- Younger age
- Increased pre-pregnancy weight
- Increased pre-delivery weight
Can we get rid of stretch marks?
Stretch marks often fade with time, but they may never disappear completely.
- Applying a heavy moisturizer may help make your skin feel softer, but it will not help eliminate stretch marks.
- Numerous creams claim to help improve the appearance and texture of stretch marks. However, there is no reliable scientific evidence to prove that these creams work.
Are there ways to avoid stretch marks?
It's not possible to avoid stretch marks, but one way to prevent stretch marks is to make sure you maintain a healthy weight. Most women gain approximately 10 to 12.5 kg during the entire pregnancy. Work with your doctor to determine what's best for you and your baby.
1. NHS. Stretch marks in pregnancy [Internet]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/stretch-marks-pregnant/. Accessed on Aug 17, 2020.
2. Pregnancy, Birth and Baby. Stretch marks [Internet]. Available at: https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/stretch-marks. Accessed on Aug 17, 2020.
3. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Skin conditions during pregnancy [Internet]. Available at: https://www.acog.org/patient-resources/faqs/pregnancy/skin-conditions-du.... Accessed on Aug 17, 2020.
4. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Stretch marks: Why they appear and how to get rid of them [Internet]. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/cosmetic/scars-stretch-marks/stretch-marks-wh.... Accessed on Aug 17, 2020.
5. Wollina U, Goldman A. Management of stretch marks (with a focus on striae rubrae). J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2017;10(3):124–9.