Why Your Stretch Marks Itch and How to Calm Them

As we grow and our body goes through transformations, our skin adapts to these changes. Along the way, we might encounter stretch marks, a natural and common concern shared by many. While stretch marks are generally harmless and may fade away with time, some people may face the question: why are my stretch marks itchy? In this article, we'll explain why stretch marks itch and how to ease discomfort.

What are stretch marks?

Stretch marks, also known as 'Striae,' are scars on the skin that appear when your body changes at a faster rate than the skin's natural collagen production. This usually results in the skin thinning and dermal tearing from these visible scars. They appear as red, white, or discolored lines. Although stretch marks can appear on any part of your body, they often occur on the abdomen, hips, breasts, buttocks, and thighs.

Causes of itchy stretch marks

If you've been asking yourself why you have itchy stretch marks, you're not alone. The skin of stretch marks is thinner and way more sensitive due to the dermal tearing. This makes it more likely to be irritated by various factors. Let's take a look at these factors in more detail.

Hormone changes

Hormone changes have a huge impact on the formation of stretch marks. During rapid weight gain or even puberty, hormones like estrogen often make the skin become thinner and dryer. This usually makes it easier for the underlying tissues to break through the middle layer of skin (the dermis) during stretching. These newly formed stretch marks may cause an itching sensation as the healing skin tries to accommodate the changes.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy may cause rapid weight gain in most women, especially in the abdominal areas, hips, and thighs. Pregnant women are more prone to stretch marks in these parts, which may itch as they heal. Another cause for itchy stretch marks during pregnancy is a rash known as pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP). This rash is not harmful to your baby or you, though it can be extremely itchy.

Dry skin

Dryness may happen anytime there is excessive water loss from your skin. Lack of moisture may lead to dry skin. Stretch marks are usually very dry skin, which in turn also causes skin to itch. Therefore, itchy stretch marks may occur if you don't moisturize them.

Allergies and other conditions

People with skin conditions like eczema may be more susceptible to experiencing itchy stretch marks because of skin sensitivity. The irritation and itching associated with eczema might make your stretch marks more uncomfortable and itchier.

How to relieve itchy stretch marks

If you've been wondering how to support itchy stretch marks, we are here for you. There are various remedies you can explore to ease that itchy sensation.

1. Topical creams

Instead of scratching to calm the itchiness, you can try topical creams that are readily available at drug stores. Topical medicines like hyaluronic acid and tretinoin may offer relief. Applying hyaluronic acid to early stretch marks may increase collagen production and make your stretch marks less noticeable. Tretinoin may also make your stretch marks less noticeable. Discuss with a health professional what cream is suitable for your situation.

2. Moisturizing

Since dry skin is less elastic, it may be more prone to tear and itching. Moisturizing is a great way to keep your skin hydrated. Applying a moisturizing cream containing ingredients like shea butter or cocoa butter to areas prone to stretch marks may help moisturize and relieve itchiness associated with dry skin. Apart from that, a moisturizer may also improve the overall appearance of your skin.

3. Hydrating

One of the things that always keeps your skin smooth and healthy is moisture. While moisturizing hydrates your body from the outside, it's equally important to hydrate on the inside. Drinking enough water is vital for skin health. Supple and soft skin may be less prone to getting itchy stretch marks.

4. Massaging with oil

Massaging stretch-marked skin with oil may be good for relieving itchy skin. A review suggests that plant oils such as olive oil are an excellent remedy that may support inflamed skin, which may cause itching.

5. An oatmeal bath

Taking oatmeal baths may also help soothe itchy stretch marks. Just add a cup of uncooked oatmeal to your bathtub. Make sure the water is lukewarm, not excessively hot since this may cause skin dryness. After adding the oats to the water, soak in the bath for 20 minutes. This will let the oatmeal work its magic and soothe your itchy skin.

6. Avoiding hot showers

We all love hot showers, but they can be harmful to itchy stretch marks. Hot water strips the skin of moisture, which may worsen dry skin. It is recommended to shower with warm water instead.

7. Avoiding drying soaps

Another thing you can do to relieve your skin from itchy stretch marks is to stop using body wash and soaps that dry out your skin. Some soaps can leave your already sensitive stretch marks irritated and more itchy. Therefore, avoid ingredients such as alcohol, sodium lauryl sulfates, fragrances, parabens, and synthetic dyes. Instead, try to go for hydrating ingredients in soaps or natural soaps.

When can you expect relief?

It can take days or even weeks for any stretch mark remedies to work. Take time to massage your product gently into your stretch marks and be consistent until there are signs of improvement. If the itchiness worsens, it is best to consult with a health professional for a more suitable remedy for you.

Can you scratch your itchy stretch marks?

Scratching itchy stretch marks is always a mistake that many people make. While it might be tempting to scratch your itchy stretch marks, doing that can actually make the itchiness worse. Scratching may irritate your skin and make it even more sensitive and prone to further itching. Instead of scratching, you can try using one of the remedies mentioned above on the affected area.

When to seek professional help

Stretch marks can happen naturally, and itchy stretch marks don't usually pose any cause for concern. That said, if you notice your stretch marks continue to itch severely even after using treatment, make an appointment to see a professional for an evaluation.

Additionally, if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, ensure you consult with your doctor before treating itchy stretch marks. Some of the products, like topical creams, may contain ingredients that may harm your baby.

Common myths about itchy stretch marks

Despite the fact that stretch marks are very common, there are still many misconceptions surrounding them. Below are some of the most common misconceptions about itchy stretch marks.

  • Itchy stretch marks can only occur during pregnancy. While pregnancy is one of the major causes of stretch marks, it's not the only one. Itchy stretch marks can also be a result of fast weight gain or loss and a range of other circumstances. Itchy stretch marks may appear on anyone.
  • There are no treatments for itchy stretch marks. There are different treatments available that may help relieve itchiness and reduce the appearance of stretch marks. So, just find one that will work for you.
  • Itchy stretch marks mean they're healing. One of the most common misconceptions about itchy stretch marks is that they are a sign that your stretch marks are healing. On the contrary, itching usually indicates that your skin is thin and more sensitive.

Stretch marks are a natural part of life. Yes, itchy stretch marks can be frustrating, but if you follow the tips above and show your skin some love, itchy stretch marks will be much more manageable. Apply a topical cream, moisturize, massage your skin with oil, try an oatmeal bath, and avoid hot showers. That being said, remember to love the skin that you're in, itchy stretch marks and all.

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