Stretch marks, medically known as striae, reveal themselves in the form of parallel stripes and or lines. They are usually red or purple in color and are caused by rapid growth, such as in pregnancy, puberty and obesity. Skin naturally contains collagen and elastin, which give it elasticity, but stretch marks form when collagen-elastin production can’t compete with the rate of growth. Common locations for stretch marks are the abdomen, breasts, hips, thighs and buttocks. A painful burning or itching sensation often accompanies the stretching of the skin. Scratching can cause the marks to break open and increase pain.
Rub hydrocortisone cream onto the skin where new stretch marks are forming and the skin is itching. Stretch marks first reveal themselves as a red, itchy area before any lines are noticeable.
Restore moisture by applying cocoa butter to the affected areas at least twice a day. Cocoa butter is a common stretch mark treatment used by pregnant women, but you need to make sure the product you use doesn’t have any added fragrances that could make your skin burn.
Soothe the pain by applying an aloe vera product directly to the stretch marks. Aloe vera has a cooling effect that can alleviate the burning and itching stretch mark pain.
Promote healing by rubbing a generous amount of vitamin E oil over the affected area. Vitamin E is often used to reduce the appearance of scars, and since stretch marks are essentially a type of scar, this is an ideal treatment.
Prevent the appearance of stretch marks by using a moisturizer with collagen and elastic every day. This will help to increase the skin’s elasticity so that it is able to stretch without tearing and producing the stretch marks.
Consult with your doctor about a prescription stretch mark treatment, such as a topical ointment to help you with the pain. Many of these creams are not safe for use by pregnant women, so if you are pregnant, you would need to wait until after delivery to begin this type of treatment.
Avoid scratching skin if you suspect a stretch mark because you will cause the stretch mark to appear by tearing the skin, which can be more painful than the itching alone.
A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.