Stretch marks may be the by product of a joyful pregnancy but they are also an unsightly reminder that your skin isn’t quite as stretchable as the Lycra maternity pants you probably wore.
Some women swear that home remedies of cocoa butter, aloe vera gel, vitamin E, olive oil or other concoctions work provided you use them daily during your pregnancy. Others say look at your mother, if she has stretch marks and early wrinkles you will too; genetics decides whether you will get them or not.
What creams are supposed to work:
1. Cocoa butter- is thought to moisturize the skin but a study of 200 pregnant women who used either cocoa butter or a placebo daily did not show a significant difference in the appearance or the severity of stretch marks.
2. Mederma- is derived from onion skin extract and is aimed at treating scars which in fact is what a stretch mark is. Mederma claims to be best for use on new stretch marks and must be applied three times a day. I only found research on using Mederma for more serious scars, not stretch marks, with mixed results. Two women reported in forums that they did use Mederma for stretch marks and did see some improvement after 3 months but felt the effort of putting it on so often was a burden.
3. Strivectin-was originally designed for use on stretch marks and then it was found to be helpful in treating wrinkles and crow’s feet. Strivectin claims to have a 93% reduction in stretch marks based on 2 months of clinical studies and claims to be more effective than retinol, vitamin C or placebo. In reading postings in forums, women seem to have better results with Strivectin than Mederma. It also must be applied three times a day and is much more expensive than Mederma.
4. Renova -contains the active ingredient of tretinoin which is a derivative of vitamin A. It is believed to increase collagen and work in the deeper layers of skin. A 1996 study does confirm that tretinoin improves the appearance of early active stretch marks but should only be used by non pregnant and non nursing mothers since it can be excreted in mother’s milk. You must get a prescription to use Renova.
Stretch marks can fade and lighten with time and become less noticeable. For those stretch marks that bother you it may be worth trying the two over the counter products Mederma and Strivectin for a 3-6 month trial or seeing dermatologist for Renova. While it is tempting to try some of those other creams that promise to miraculously cure your stretch marks, stick with those that have some research to support their use. You know the old saying if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Cocoa butter study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18715434?ordinalpos=4&itool=EntrezSystem2
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in women’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele can be read at http://www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles