Stretch marks: Why do they occur and how can they disappear!

Stretch marks are irregular areas of skin that look like bands, stripes, or lines seen around the abdomen, breasts, thighs, buttocks, hips and arms. Stretch marks are usually encountered in pregnancy.  

Stretch marks: Why do they occur and how can they disappear!

Dhanya (name changed), my childhood friend came in for a surprise consultation. It had been a decade since I met her. She was trying to get fit and was worried of her stretch marks developed in pregnancy. Through her consultation, Dhanya expressed she had developed itching specifically at the stretched skin areas and found it as a cosmetic hinderance. She had tried various promising products, but nothing seemed to work. That is when she decided that she must seek medical advice. Let us understand about Striae.

Striae/Stretch marks are irregular areas of skin that look like bands, stripes, or lines. You might have observed stretch mark impressions are of a different colour and texture than the normal skin. They are usually seen around the abdomen, breasts, thighs, buttocks, hips, and arms. Stretch marks are usually encountered in pregnancy like in Dhania’s case, in growing children where there is rapid growth spurts/ weight gain, in gym/fitness aspirants where there could either be trying to gain weight or lose weight. They are also seen in overweight people, during puberty, in certain disease conditions or medicine usage. Stretch marks are particularly seen in people with a Vataja/Vata- Pittaja skin type or where the elasticity and hydration of the skin is compromised.

Are Stretch marks a threat?

Mostly, they pose no health risk in and of themselves, and do not compromise the body’s ability to function normally and repair itself. They can (but do not always) cause a burning and itching sensation. But to many just like Dhanya it is a cosmetic hinderance. Sometimes stretch marks could be because of hormonal disturbances or Adrenal gland disorders or because of usage of certain medicines which reduce the skin’s elasticity eventually giving rise to Stretch marks. So, better to get it evaluated and diagnosed before you start treatments.

How can they be treated?

Skin always depicts the inner health. It is best to determine the cause of stretch marks and treat accordingly. Modalities will include internal use of medicines and external treatments which.

1.Promote skin health,

2.Tone the involved tissues like the muscle, fat/adipose which will facilitate skin elasticity,

3.Balances the doshic (bioenergy) imbalance and strengthens the skin tissue.

Treatments such as Abhyanga (therapeutic massage), Udvartana (therapeutic powder massage), Prakshalana (Medicated water decoction bath /pouring) Shashtika Shali Sweda (Therapeutic massage with a particular variety of rice tied in a bolus and dipped in a herbal milk decoction), special Lepana karmas(Application in the form of oils, ointment, skin packs etc)  diminish the stretch marks, reduce inflammatory changes and soften the skin. Diet and lifestyle to maintain the suppleness of the skin is also important.

How Can Stretch marks be prevented?

1. Eating right and exercising regularly can prevent stretch marks caused due to sudden weight gain/weight loss. It also helps to keep the skin healthy and hydrated.

2. Stretch marks in Pregnancy are common. Special tailas (medicated oils) and lepas (herbal packs) are advised to reduce the itchy and dry feeling of the skin.

3. Eating food according to Ayurvedic food principles helps to maintain the balance for a good tissue functioning and in turn healthy skin.

4. People with good moisture content and toned skin develop lesser stretch marks compared to people with skin which is not hydrated well and dry in nature.

5. Get fresh stretch marks treated when you notice them. Itching can cause more skin damage, so avoid scratching the areas. Applying sandal paste on the affected areas relieves itching effectively.

6. Diet, which is unctuous, sweet by nature (not taste) with specified quantity of fats is beneficial for people prone to stretch marks. Have fruits and veggies which source to promote nutrition to skin like cucumber, lady’s finger, onion, garlic, ridge gourd, bottle gourd, watermelon, musk melon, bananas, raisins, citrus fruits etc.

dr-Sanmathi-P-Rao

Dr Sanmathi P Rao

Sriranga Ayurveda & Shubha Ayurvedic Centre

Basavanagudi

Bangalore-560004

Ph: 78294 88352

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