Stretch marks are characterized by pink or red streaks indented on the abdomen, breasts, upper arms, buttocks or thighs. Stretch marks can be caused by pregnancy, hormonal influences, and may appear after losing or gaining a large amount of weight. In some circumstances, the marks may fade. The medical term for stretch marks is striae.
Vitamin A Creams
Prescription creams derived from vitamin A, like tretinoin, (sold as Retin-A or Renova), can help improve the appearance of new stretch marks, notes the Mayo Clinic, for “those that are less than six weeks old and still pink or red in color.” These ointments work by rebuilding collagen, which allows the affected skin to resemble the surrounding normal skin. Older stretch marks will not successfully respond to vitamin A creams. A study published in a 1996 issue of “Archives of Dermatology” found that tretinoin showed a clinically significant improvement of the appearance of new stretch marks.
Trofolastin, an ointment developed in Spain, contains Centella asiatica extract, an herb believed to reduce wrinkles and heal skin; alpha tocopherol, a form of vitamin E known to reduce free radicals; and collagen-elastin hydrolysates, proteins that connect tissue. A study reported by the Skin & Aging website found that 80 women with stretch marks who were massaged with Trofolastin cream developed fewer stretch marks compared to a group of women massaged with a cream containing a placebo.
Doctors at Temple Sowerby Medical Practice in Britain massaged verum, a topical cream containing tocopherol, panthenol, hyaluronic acid, elastin and menthol, on 50 women at risk of developing stretch marks. Although the researchers determined that the women developed fewer stretchmarks than if they were not treated with Verum, the women were not compared to a group who received a placebo treatment. The ingredients unique to verum, such as panthenol and hyaluronic acid, are known to hydrate and heal skin.