Stretch marks occur when skin is forced to stretch rapidly, due to pregnancy, weight gain or a rapid period of growth, such as that which often occurs during adolescence. Stretch marks occur when collagen fibers in the dermis, or under layer of your skin, tear. These fibers are naturally elastic, but rapid stretching overwhelms your skin’s natural elasticity and causes tearing. The scar tissue that develops in the dermis is what forms stretch marks; moisturizing your skin with vitamin E during pregnancy can help reduce or eliminate stretch marks.
What Causes Stretch Marks
Stretch marks typically happen with pregnancy, because the skin of the abdomen, buttocks, breasts and thighs stretches rapidly during pregnancy. Weight gain can cause stretch marks, as skin expands to accommodate added body weight. Many adolescents, both girls and boys, experience stretch marks as a result of skin expansion during growth spurts.
Your skin is naturally supple and elastic. When skin must expand rapidly, due to pregnancy or another type of growth, the collagen fibers in your skin can tear. This is because the fibers aren’t strong and supple enough to accommodate the expansion of your skin. Stretch marks can be red, purple or brown when they first appear; over time, they may fade to a white, scar-like color.
If your stretch marks are discolored, your dermatologist may be able to prescribe a medication to help them fade.
How Vitamin E Can Help Prevent Stretch Marks
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can help prevent stretch marks because it protects the collagen fibers in your skin from free radical damage. Free radicals cause your skin’s collagen to deteriorate, leading to increased tearing and increased appearance of stretch marks. This helps to keep the collagen fibers strong, and it helps them retain their natural elasticity. Vitamin E also helps to prevent the wrinkling and sagging that can occur with age, as your skin’s collagen fibers become less elastic.
When you put vitamin E on the surface of your skin, you can increase the vitamin E content of your skin, even down to the dermis, by as much as ten times. This helps to keep your skin moist, and allows it to draw on extra reserves of antioxidants and moisture to help it retain its elasticity when stretching occurs.
Using Vitamin E to Prevent Stretch Marks
The key to preventing stretch marks with vitamin E is to apply it topically several times a day. Many stretch cream products contain vitamin E, as well as other beneficial moisturizers such as cocoa butter, shea butter, emu oil, collagen and elastin. Massage vitamin E oil, or a moisturizer rich in vitamin E, such as cocoa butter, into your skin in a circular motion at least twice a day. The more often you apply vitamin E to your skin, the less likely you are to experience stretch marks.
Massaging vitamin E into your skin in a circular motion helps to increase circulation to your skin, to help it heal more quickly when collagen fibers stretch and tear. Massaging your skin also helps to reduce the appearance of stretch marks.