Characterized by the presence of parallel red or purple streaks through the skin, stretch marks occur when the deeper skin layers tear, usually as a result of sudden weight gain. In certain instances, vitamin E oil may help prevent stretch marks, but make sure you talk to your doctor before using it to verify that it's an appropriate preventative therapy for your specific health condition.
When stretch marks occur, the outer layer of skin remains intact, but the torn dermis creates unattractive indentations as a result of collagen fibers that become stretched out of shape. The National Institutes of Health notes that common stretch mark locations include the abdomen, hips, thighs, buttocks and breasts. Considered a cosmetic issue, stretch marks don't present serious health problems. According to the Mayo Clinic, stretch marks generally lighten in appearance over time, but they never completely disappear, even with the use of treatments such as laser therapy and microdermabrasion.
Also called tocopherol, vitamin E may aid in preventing stretch marks. According to Dr. James Balch, coauthor of "Prescription for Natural Cures," vitamin E oil combats stretch marks by promoting skin elasticity. When your skin is more elastic, it's able to stretch more, which minimizes the tissue tearing that leads to unsightly stretch marks. Unfortunately, once you develop stretch marks, the tissue damage has already occurred, so vitamin E oil most likely won't play a major role in improving the appearance of your stretched skin.
Generally, people use vitamin E oil either as a topical ointment or as an oral supplement for the prevention of stretch marks. As an oral supplement, Vitamin E oil is available in various sizes, including 200 and 400 IU soft gel capsules. Topical vitamin E oil may be purchased in cream form. Look for both forms of the vitamin E oil at pharmacies, health-care stores and supermarkets.
Talk to your primary care doctor to determine the correct amount of vitamin E oil that you should be taking orally, especially if you're pregnant or suffer from chronic health problems. Apply vitamin E oil to your stretched skin twice daily, in the morning and evening, as recommended by Dr Balch. Consider boosting the healing properties of the topical vitamin E oil by mixing it with other ingredients before massaging it onto your tightly stretched skin. According to Narine Nikogosian, author of the book "Return to Beauty," cocoa butter provides a prime hydrating ingredient that works well when combined with vitamin E oil for topical application. Other possible ingredients to use include gotu oil, rose hip oil and sweet almond oil.
Don't rely solely on topical application of vitamin E oil to prevent stretch marks. Practice additional preventative strategies, such as exercising regularly and eating a well-balanced diet to control weight gain. If you're pregnant, try to gain weight slowly throughout the duration of your pregnancy to minimize your chances of experiencing the sudden weight gain that generally leads to stretch marks. In the event that you do get stretch marks, don't despair. Even without treatment, they should gradually become less apparent as time passes.