Stretch marks are wavy marks that can appear on overstretched skin on the abdomen, breast, buttocks and thighs. Initially they appear as a purplish-red colour and then begin gradually fading over a period of 6-12 months to become silvery, shimmering lines. Once a stretch mark has developed, it is permanent. However there are measures available to prevent the formation of stretch marks and to reduce their appearance.


Stretch marks are commonly caused by rapid weight gain, such as that occurs with pregnancy and during puberty. When the body goes through a spurt of growing faster on the inside than the skin on the outside can keep up with, the fibrous and elastic layers deep in the skin stretch and tear. The stretch marks which form in the area are actually scar tissue which forms to heal the tears. Stretch marks can also appear as a result of certain diseases involving hormonal imbalances, such as Cushing’s syndrome, and as a side effect of certain medications, such as corticosteroids. A deficiency in zinc has also been associated with the development of stretch marks.


A key method to prevent stretch marks is to avoid putting on excess body fat quickly by maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle. Make sure to eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and avoid fatty foods. Drinking around two litres of water per day is another important part of keeping within the healthy weight range. If you are pregnant, wearing a supportive maternity bra during pregnancy and breastfeeding can help in preventing the formation of stretch marks. 


If you develop stretch marks easily, you may be deficient in the mineral zinc, which is essential for skin repair. You can try taking a zinc supplement, especially one with magnesium and vitamin B6 to assist in optimum absorption, such as Blackmores Bio Zinc and Nature’s Own Zinc Chelate. Vitamin C is also important in maintaining the skin’s elasticity through its role in collagen production. Try Lifestream Natural Vitamin C and Pharmacy Health Vitamin C. If you are pregnant, consider taking a special multi-vitamin and mineral formula containing zinc to ensure you are getting adequate nutrition for you and your baby. Always consult a healthcare professional before taking.


The appearance of stretch marks can be reduced through the use of a number of essential oils such as Swisse Bio Nature Oil and Rose-hip Vital Rosehip Oil. Laser treatment can also be used to fade the redness of stretch marks. Consult your healthcare professional for advice and especially see your doctor if you suddenly develop a large number of stretch marks as this may indicate a hormonal imbalance.